SALEM, OR -- The 2016 murder of Kaylee Sawyer, in Bend, is the basis behind a bill Oregon Legislators are expected to consider next year. It would define rules for community college security guards.
In January, Edwin Lara pleaded guilty to murdering Sawyer while on-duty as a Central Oregon Community College security guard. Her father, Jamie Sawyer, told lawmakers on Friday it shouldn't have happened. "This college failed our daughter and put a sociopathic individual in a trusted position with little safeguards." His wife, Krystal Sawyer, told the Legislature her step-daughter would still be alive if COCC had vetted Lara, "Who, of all people, not only to hurt her but to ultimately murder, who was none other than a college campus security guard - who was supposed to keep her safe."
Oregon's state universities can have police departments, but community colleges can only have security officers. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter testified at Friday's Judicial Committee hearing that COCC's security guards act and look like police, "These people do not have the training to do this and we ask that you give them clear guidance in this area." Chief Porter and the Deschutes County District Attorney old lawmakers the college has not cooperated in changing its policies for the security department. COCC officials deny that assertion.
The bill, called "Kaylee's Law," would require criminal background checks on campus security guards, their uniforms and cars would not be allowed to look like those used by police, and they wouldn't be able to stop and frisk people. The bill is supported by the Oregon State Sheriff's Association, the Oregon Chiefs of Police, the Oregon Student Association and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Photo: Jamie Sawyer testifies before the Joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee in Salem, Friday, as Krystal Sawyer looks on.