Portland State University PD to Lay Down Guns

Portland State University PD to Lay Down Guns

Portland State University said Thursday its police force will no longer carry guns while patrolling on campus. The decision stems from heightened calls for change to policing policies.

PSU students have debated the college's Board of Trustees' 2014 decision to arm campus police. The debate escalated in 2018 after campus police fatally shot Jason Washington, a Black postal service worker and Navy veteran, according to Oregon Live. The college's student union launched a Change.org petition in 2018 that called for the disarmament of campus officers.

After protesters across the country demonstrated this summer following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody in late May, the school's president said it was time to make a change on campus.

"The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation," President Stephen Percy said in an open letter to the school community.

A video message from the campus' chief of police and campus public safety director, Willie Halliburton, accompanied Percy's letter and was posted on the school's social media channels. Halliburton, who has been a police officer for more than 30 years, joined the campus police department in February 2016 but only recently stepped into the role as chief of police, according to the university.

"I've examined my own experience dealing with police as a civilian, and I must tell you: Things must change," Halliburton said in his video message. "Here at Portland State, I'm so proud to be a part of this historic, groundbreaking way of doing police work

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