Arming campus PD: 'They have the authority from the state to carry weapons'

Arming campus PD: 'They have the authority from the state to carry weapons' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon recently asked the State Board of Education for permission to arm campus officers.

According to UO spokesman Phil Weller, the university filed a docket late last week that would allow University of Oregon Police Department to use the firearms.

“So those 11 officers are sworn. They have the authority from the state to carry weapons but they don't have that authority here on our campus,” Weller said.

School officials have asked students, staff and neighbors on campus about their thoughts on having their officers carrying guns throughout the last academic year.

Based on that feedback, Weller said that they feel it’s safest to arm their officers.

“There are certain instances where officers can’t respond unless they’re armed,” said Weller. "People committed crimes on our campus that are jailable offenses, but we've ended up having to let them go with a written citation because there was nobody available to take them to jail."

Some students agreed, saying they feel safer if uniformed officers can perform their full duties.

“If that's the case - that they can’t do this on their own - then they have to call the Eugene Police Department, and that takes away from them being able to deal with things that shouldn't necessarily be campus issues,” said UO sophomore Will Steiner.

Weller said he sees the move as more of a re-staffing than a change for campus. Before the University of Oregon Police Department was established in 2011, armed Eugene Police officers patrolled the campus. 

“There are some folks who are just uncomfortable with the idea of having guns on campus and I understand that,” said Weller.

Officials from the University of Oregon Police Department were unavailable for comment on the issue.