SALEM, OR -- Kaylee’s Law unanimously passed out of the State Senate, Tuesday. "Among other things, this bill would require campus security to take off their cars the red and blue lights that look like police cars," said State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) prior to the vote, "Remove specialized bumpers, and - perhaps most important - do away with internal plexiglass cages." Knopp is the bill's chief sponsor, and says it will improve safety on community college campuses.
The bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer, who was killed by a Central Oregon Community College campus security guard in 2016. In a rare rule-bending, her family was allowed on the floor during Tuesday's vote. They watched as Knopp gave an emotional speech on Sawyer's life and explained why the bill is necessary, "In the end, we are all powerless to turn back time. Instead, we must face the loss and resolve together: Never again." Knopp tells KBND News, "It was very emotional. They're obviously still hurting. And, even though it was a good day and we did some good things, we can't undo the past and we can't bring Kaylee back. It's hard to lose somebody, and it's hard to lose somebody in such a tragic and violent way."
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SB 576 creates rules for campus public safety agencies so security guards aren't confused with police. Investigators believe Sawyer trusted her killer and got into his patrol car because he looked and acted like a police officer. "I don't think anybody can know the intent of an individual, but clearly, the safeguards need to be put in place so we don't have this happen to any other student," says Knopp. Kaylee's Law is backed by Central Oregon law enforcement officials, and Knopp is pleased with the support shown Tuesday by his colleagues, "They believe that there was a problem with the way campus security has been handled on some of our college campuses, and they wanted to fix that problem, and send a very strong message that it's important that it gets fixed."
The bill now heads to the House and is scheduled for a first reading in that chamber on Wednesday. Knopp calls Tuesday's event "the halfway point."
Photo: Kaylee Sawyer's father Jamie Sawyer on the Senate floor as Sen. Tim Knopp talked about the importance of passing "Kaylee's Law."