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Sawyer killing puts spotlight on COCC campus safety


Edwin Lara, a former Central Oregon Community College campus safety officer, is accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer on campus in July.

Some COCC students said Wednesday they are now uncomfortable asking a campus safety officer for help after the news that Sawyer, 23, was sexually assaulted and killed at the school last month, alleging by Edwin Lara, 31, who worked in that position.

“It’s hard enough to realize the crime happened on campus, but it was a member of our staff that was involved — it’s just horrible,” college spokesman Ron Paradis said.

Days after Sawyer disappeared, COCC President Shirley Metcalf sent an email to students and staff saying the crime was “deeply disturbing and tragic.” Metcalf also said the campus safety officers go through background checks, and attend officer training every year.

Still, some students are having a hard time trusting the campus safety officers.

“Actually, it’s kind of scary, because it makes you wonder,” Sierra Johnson said. “They’re supposed to keep you safe on campus, and then the safety people are actually harming.”

Johnson said she wants to see school officials start a conversation about regaining their trust of campus law enforcement officers.

“It should be a place to learn and come and be comfortable and be safe and focus on your studies, not worry about like campus supervisors or people being murdered on campus,” Johnson said.

Paradis said the college has worked for years to increase the number of campus safety officers around campus.

He said the college hosts events where students are invited to come and ask questions to our campus safety officers in the past, and will continue them in the future.

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