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Council gives citation authority to UO officers.

Byline: Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

Memo to students: University of Oregon's campus security officers will be adding citation books to the equipment they carry this fall.

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 Monday night to extend citation authority to officers in the UO's Department of Public Safety, despite misgivings from some councilors about adopting the ordinance during summer break.

"I strongly object, first of all, to doing this while most students are not in town," said Councilor Betty Taylor, who cast the sole vote against the measure. "And I have great doubts about giving this kind of authority to anyone other than police officers, anyway."

In the past, UO public safety officers have been able to detain people on campus for suspicion of violating the city code - most often for minor in possession of alcohol or possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

But officers from the Eugene Police Department have then been summoned to issue citations - a process that has taken city police away from other duties and sometimes resulted in delays of up to two hours before citations could be written.

University and city police officials endorsed the change in a public hearing earlier this month, maintaining it will better utilize campus security officers while reducing demand on city police.

"I'm very much in favor of this ordinance, and feel it's long overdue," said Councilor Gary Pape, who despite his support was one of three councilors who sought unsuccessfully to table the matter until students returned to the UO this fall.

Taylor and David Kelly also voted to delay action on the ordinance.

The new law - which will take effect before students return for fall term - is based loosely on an ordinance adopted in Ashland that allows Southern Oregon University security officers to issue citations for either minor in possession or possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, but no other city code violations.

Kelly suggested amending the Eugene ordinance to similarly limit the citation authority of UO officers, but could gain no support.

A recent change in state law allows college towns to grant "commissioned" campus security officers the authority to enforce city laws.

The officers don't receive the same training as police officers, but can receive a special commission by attending a five-week training program at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and then passing written and oral examinations.

All supervisors and nine of 14 officers in the UO Department of Public Safety have undergone the training.

"This is upgrading the standards that are going to be required of officers at the DPS," said Councilor George Poling, a former sheriff's deputy.

Poling maintained that it was best that the ordinance be acted upon before students return to Eugene, so that there will be no changes in the rules after the school year has begun.

Councilor Bonny Bettman also spoke in favor of the ordinance, pointing out both the benefits of city/UO collaboration and the fact that students could have participated in the process by attending the hearing two weeks ago.

"At least 8,000 students are on campus (for summer term)," Bettman said. "I was surprised when we did have a public hearing, we heard from only two of them."

State law already gives commissioned officers at Oregon's universities the authority to make probable cause arrests for misdemeanors and felonies, but not to issue citations for city code violations.
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Title Annotation:Campus security staff will soon be able enforce city laws and issue citations; Government
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 29, 2003
Words:569
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