BEND, OR -- Bend's Police Chief is in Salem Wednesday, testifying in support of Kaylee's Law. The proposed bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer who was killed in 2016 by a Central Oregon Community College security guard. It outlines regulations for college campus security forces. Sawyer's family implored lawmakers in December to take up the bill this session. To read the full bill, click HERE.
Chief Jim Porter says COCC campus security act too much like official law enforcement, wearing uniforms that look like police and driving cars that look like patrol vehicles. He tells KBND News, "This group of public safety professionals, and there are professionals among them, have not been regulated; they have not been given any professional guidelines. But yet, they've been expanding on their own their police power, police presence, and the way they dress, and the manner in which they carry out their duties." Porter says that could lead to violations of the rights of on-campus crime victims, "If they take a report from a person at the college, and because of the way they're dressed, and the manner in which they operate, and the vehicles they drive, those people presume that they're being treated like a victim and be assured victim's rights, but they never are, because that never gets to myself or never gets to the District Attorney. So, they don't get their constitutional rights."
While state universities can have accredited police departments, community colleges cannot. Porter says Kaylee's Law would outline what campus security guards can and can't do while performing their duties, "It's to give every community public safety officer working on a campus a set of guidelines and state mandates to help them be better; not just COCC, everybody." The bill would require criminal background checks on all security officers, uniforms and cars could not look like those used by police, and any reports taken regarding on-campus crimes would be forwarded to official law enforcement.
Bend State Senator Tim Knopp is a chief sponsor of SB 576. It's also supported by Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel and the Bend City Council. It's opposed by COCC and the Oregon College and University Public Safety Administrators Association, who say campus security offers a vital service at colleges around the state and Kaylee's Law would negatively impact safety.