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Outside review of COCC Campus Public Safety leads to changes

(Update: adding video, comments by college president)

New interim director, more casual uniforms; review did not substantiate worker's complaint of 'cop-like behavior'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An outside review of the Central Oregon Community College Campus Public Safety Department, during which all officers were placed on paid leave a month ago, has concluded with findings and suggestions for improvement, the college said Friday. A new interim director of the department was named and the staff will switch to a "more casual" uniform, to more easily distinguish from police.

"This college and I take concerns and complaints about Campus Public Safety very seriously," COCC President Dr. Laurie Chesley told NewsChannel 21 on Friday.  

Chesley also said that some of the four campus security officers will be returning to work next week. She declined to comment on whether the officer who filed the complaint would be back on the job.

"What I hope people see in this incident is that when we became aware of concerns, we took swift action," Chesley said. "We engaged an independent review, and we tried to be as transparent as possible." 

The review, which began in early March, made a number of key findings and suggestions for improvement. It also determined that there were no violations of Kaylee’s Law, the Oregon state law ensuring that campus officers do not act in a law enforcement capacity, COCC said.

Attorneys Karen Vickers and Beth Plass completed the outside review.

“COCC remains committed to making our campuses as safe as they can be for everyone,” Chesley said in the announcement. “This review and its findings will help the college continue to make campus safety a clearly defined, student-focused service rooted in education.”

The review’s findings include: 

  • Patrol cars were used by campus safety staff for personal purposes. The college should develop clear policies and trainings for the department regarding the use of department vehicles and other subjects, including on-call work and sick time.
  • There was not a hostile work environment.
  • Campus safety supervision is inconsistent with current college needs. 

The review summary noted, "An employee complained about lack of leadership in the department, lack of training for their position, and concerns about cop-like behavior by individuals.

"The employee’s complaints about cop-like behavior were not substantiated," the findings state. "Further training should be provided for this employee’s position. "

The college said it "does not comment on specific personnel actions taken as a result of the review’s findings."

“I remain personally invested in ensuring that our community members and students both feel safe and are safe on our campuses,” added Chesley.

She has appointed Andrew Davis, the college’s director of student/campus life, to the position of interim campus safety director. Davis will provide daily oversight of the department and report directly to Dr. Chesley. 

COCC also said it will hire a consultant to provide guidance on the issues noted above, as well as on campus safety staff job descriptions and further defining the essential boundaries between campus safety staff and law enforcement.

"Moving forward, the college will be changing the campus safety staff uniforms to a more casual style, to further ensure they are easily distinguishable from local law enforcement," Friday's announcement said.

COCC campus safety staff will be present during weekday business hours. The college will continue to contract with Bend Patrol Services to perform random evening and weekend patrols on its two largest campuses in Bend and Redmond.

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. I was thinking Bermuda shorts with a Rastacap, but definitely sandals! They will be allowed to carry a whistle though but no flashlight, no protective gear and no personal items whatsoever. Unless they want to carry a lighter so they can offer a light to anyone who needs it.

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