Acting in-charge director and chief Carolyn McDermed is one of six officers who will be wearing new police uniforms beginning Monday.
Lieutenants Mike Morrow, Brandon Lebrecht, Andy Bechdolt, and sergeants Brad Petrie and Michael Matchulat will join McDermed in the continuation of the campaign to add eight sworn police officers to DPS’ personnel by the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
Officers with the rank of lieutenant or higher will wear a gold patch, emblazoned with “Police” across the top. Those below the lieutenant rank will wear patches containing blue. Currently the patches of the officers whom are not sworn officers wear patches that say “Public Safety Officer.”
“The officers wearing the uniforms are in leadership positions,” said DPS Communications Director Kelly McIver. “They are not out and about as much as our patrol officers, so there is not a great chance students will see them right away.”
Of the officers, McDermed will be the most likely spotted officer around campus, as she chooses to walk wherever she goes, as she was enthusiastic about the new uniforms and what wearing them means to the campus community.
“What this truly means is that we will now be represented appropriately,” McDermed said. “The officers wearing these uniforms have all the training necessary to wear an official police uniform.”
Because some are now sworn police officers, the jurisdiction for these individuals changes.
“In the state of Oregon, police officers can enforce the laws anywhere,” McIver said, adding that if officers saw a crime or violation occurring off campus, they would have the right to take lawful action as they deemed necessary.
Wearing the uniforms is another step towards what DPS hopes to be a full-fledged police force on campus.
“This is a part of our effort to be more responsive to campus needs,” McIver said. “Because of our proximity to campus, our response can be very fast – faster than (Eugene Police Department’s) now.”
Currently, DPS must rely on EPD to carry out some functions relevant to police officers, such as detaining and transporting suspect.
“We are a professionalized department,” McDermed said. “Our services available to the campus community are better, and I think people know this. We want to provide more, to help more – all so students can focus more on studies. That is the goal.”