Oregon State Police ends contract with university, OSU seeks alternatives

Oregon State Police Trooper Daniel Ketcham speaks with Oregon State University students during a 2019 community fair in the Student Experience Center Plaza. 

Vada Shelby, News Contributor

Oregon State Police has decided to discontinue their contract with Oregon State University, effective June 30. OSU will be looking into other law enforcement agencies to potentially partner with after July 1, 2020. 

On Oct. 23, the student body at OSU received an email from President Ed Ray about OSP’s decision, saying OSP will remain in service to OSU until June 30 to ensure a smooth transition of law enforcement on campus. According to Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing, OSP told the university their decision was based on a priority to disperse their staffing and resources through the state of Oregon, and in doing so they would no longer provide licensed law enforcement on campus after June 30. Clark explained the current agreement ends on Dec. 31, but OSP agreed to stay until June 30 to help with transitioning law enforcement services. 

OSP did not respond to multiple messages asking whether this decision has any relation to the arrest of Oregon State University student Genesis Hansen, which drew controversy for multiple reasons. The charges have since been dropped. 

Clark said the levels of public safety at OSU will not be affected during this transition. 

“Our commitment to public safety is not evident alone in the services provided by Oregon State Police,” Clark said. “Public Safety as a priority at OSU is evident through our Department of Public Safety and the relationship and service provided by Corvallis Police Department and Corvallis Fire Department and the Benton County Sheriff’s office. Public safety at its delivery is not limited to one agency at Oregon State.”

OSU is home to a nuclear reactor, which requires specific training and law enforcement presence. According to Clark, OSU will work to make sure activity involving the nuclear reactor facility will not be interrupted.

“OSP is the first provider, I understand that CPD officers are trained for certain levels as well, Clark said. “Our evaluation for future service would assure that the operations and research and teaching that occurs within the nuclear reactor facility would continue without interruption after OSP’s contract ends.” 

The university will continue to search for agreements with other law enforcement agencies before June 30 of 2020, according to Clark. 

“Oregon State Police can enforce criminal and traffic laws, write citations and arrest while OSU DPS Public Safety officers cannot,” Clark said via email. “Oregon State Police are licensed law enforcement officers who are armed. OSU DPS Public Safety officers are unarmed.”

According to Mindy McCartt, communications director for OSP, OSU has been a partner with OSP since the 1980’s. 

Last year, OSU paid OSP approximately $2.5 million for services, and Athletics pays OSP for services as well, via

a separate agreement. 

“For much of this year, OSP leadership has been assessing the governmental interest of continuing to provide law enforcement resources to Oregon State University,” McCartt said in a contract statement. “Oregon law enforcement resources are in drastic decline and our statewide offices are starving

for police personnel.”

According to McCartt, OSP decided to allow the contract with OSU to end after considering the department’s statewide obligations and a “concern for the safety of our own employees.” 

“Oregon State University has been a tremendous partner to the Oregon State Police for decades and OSP treasures our relationships in the greater Corvallis community,” McCartt said in a contract statement. “OSP will work closely with OSU on an exit strategy for policing resources and we offer our commitment to support them in this time of transition.”

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