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New law changes campus security at Oregon colleges

A new law is changing campus security at colleges across the state.

Posted: Jul 19, 2019 3:52 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 2:33 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- A new law is changing campus security at colleges across the state. It's called Kaylee's Law and is named after Kaylee Sawyer. She was killed by a security officer at Central Oregon Community College in Bend during 2016.

This law is affecting campus security locally, at Southern Oregon University. 

The University's Campus Public Safety team said this law changes what they're allowed to do on campus and how they're supposed to dress. Ultimately, the law will help students tell the difference between campus security members and police officers. 

Right now, the SOU campus security uniform is a dark blue with a patch on the arm. The law means campus security will have to create a new uniform so their clothes do not look similar to police officers. 

Campus security is considering getting polo shirts and making a different patch that will use SOU's color scheme, according to Andrew MacPherson, the Director of Campus Public Safety. 

Kaylee's Law also restricts campus security's ability to stop and frisk people. The Campus Public Safety team said this might affect their ability to keep students safe, especially if they see someone suspicious on campus.

READ: Former campus officer who inspired 'Kaylee's Law' gets second life sentence

"Previously, we had the right to detain them," MacPherson said. "Tell them you're being detained while we figure out what's going on. Now, we don't have that. So, I think that'll impact us because they'll have the ability to wander away."

Kaylee's Law requires people who want to work for campus security to have a background check before they're hired. SOU already does that, but the University will have to add a psychiatric evaluation to the hiring process. 

SOU's Campus Public Safety Department said that overall, Kaylee's Law is a good thing, especially the mandatory background and psychiatric tests. 

The team is also working on other ways to keep students safe. They plan to launch a cellphone app called Alert Us. This app will have a panic button students can press to immediately contact campus security. Campus Public Safety said the app can't pinpoint the very exact location of a student who is in trouble, but it will tell them the general location so they can go and help. 

The app will also send out push notifications about important events on campus. That includes events such as school closures or dangerous situations. Students said that they are interested in downloading the app. 

"We want to feel safe where we are," said Christina Rivers, a graduate psychology student. "So, that's always a concern, particularly for women in the back of their minds. So, to have something so accessible and easy to use would be pretty awesome."

The app is still being tested, but Campus Public Safety said they hope to release it in time for the upcoming fall semester. 

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