EUGENE, Ore. - Serve and protect is their motto, and officials with the University of Oregon Police Department say they can't fulfill that responsibility to the campus and students if they can't carry a firearm.
"We know that there's a higher level of service that we can provide to the campus community if our police officers are armed," said Kelly McIver, a spokesperson with UOPD.
He said there are basic functions in law enforcement that campus officers can't perform because they don't have guns to protect themselves.
Some of those basic functions include making traffic stops, serving search warrants, confronting armed subjects and investigating disputes. McIver said because UOPD can't respond to those calls, they are forced to call Eugene Police. Oftentimes, he said, Eugene police will have to drop what they're working on to come assist UOPD.
"We'd like to not be a burden to Eugene Police in that way," McIver said. "We'd like to be able to give campus the value that we think we can provide as a police department, and that simply means officers having all the tools at their disposal."
The ultimate decision will be left up to the university, but three forums are being held to give the campus community a chance to weigh in on the topic.
They will be held Monday, February 11, February 26, and March 6.