Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

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Dam clever: OSU security works to keep campus, community safe

Landon Marks, OMN Photographer
Nicholas Herman, an Oregon State alumni, who is now an Oregon State Public Safety Officer poses in front of a Public Safety truck parked in front of Cascade Hall in Corvallis on Feb. 23 2024.

Correction: In the original version Shanon Anderson’s last name was misspelled. This error has been corrected. Beaver’s Digest regrets this mistake.

Why does Oregon State University have their own police department? 

What is the difference between police officers and public safety officers? 

If you’re walking around on campus, you might see a black and orange truck and then a white and orange SUV, you might wonder if there is a difference between OSU police and the OSU Department of Public Safety.

The OSU Department of Public Safety is made up of public safety officers and police officers who work together to protect the OSU community and be a reliable resource for students and faculty, according to Shanon Anderson, vice president of DPS and chief of police at OSU. 

The OSU police, however, is a relatively new addition to the DPS that officially started in January of 2021 with Anderson. 

“In 2020… (OSU) was looking to start their own police department here,” Anderson said.  “And so, I was like this sounds perfect for me. I applied, competed, and my dreams came true and here I am. So I started in December of 2020 and we started as a police agency January 1, 2021.” 

“We are probably the newest police agency in the state of Oregon,” Anderson.

Anderson was a police officer and detective in Seattle before taking on the role of chief at OSU. 

What makes the OSU police different from the Corvallis Police Department is jurisdiction. 

“The city of Corvallis is a municipality,” Anderson said. “They have their own police department. Generally they will police within the city limits of Corvallis. OSU, (is) a government entity that sits within the city of Corvallis. And so, we are a police department that is authorized through the Oregon Revised Statutes and through the authority of our board of trustees to the president.” 

The Corvallis Police Department is authorized to assist OSU police when requested and vice versa. For large events like football games, the DPS collaborates with different police departments to keep both the Corvallis community and visitors at events safe. 

“At football games, you’ll see Polk county police officers, Benton county, Corvallis, Albany police. (University of Oregon) police officers will come. We have gone to U of O to assist them with sporting events when they’ve needed assistance,” Anderson said. 

During day to day operations, OSU police officers and public safety officers work hand in hand, forming one large patrol team, riding in black and orange trucks or SUVs around campus. 

Anderson used a vehicle-pedestrian collision on campus as an example. In this instance, OSU police officers investigate the collision and the public safety officers are in charge of traffic control to ensure a safe area surrounding the area. 

What makes the OSU police different from Public Safety Officers is the authority to make an arrest, but otherwise they both form the same patrol team. 

“Both of them act together as a team,” Anderson said. “They work the same shifts, they have the same supervisors for one team.”

Anderson said they have four patrol teams, when one team is working, one team is resting. 

“Our primary patrol area is here on campus,” Anderson said. “But you might see us traversing around on Monroe, maybe a couple blocks (around campus). We might see something that has perked our interest and we might be in that area.”

When campus security receives a call regarding criminal activity, like a bike theft, it’s the public safety officers that show up first on the scene. 

They make the initial report, search the area for any kind of evidence, should they find any. Once they have gathered enough information that tells them who the suspect is, the public safety officers turn over the case to campus police where they can make an arrest and officially press charges. 

Nicholas Herman is a public safety officer and an OSU alum and has been working for campus security for over a year. You can catch Herman on his bike, going around campus, checking bike racks and making sure all bikes are safely locked. 

Herman takes his job as an opportunity to teach students how to properly interact with law enforcement. 

“I really take this as an opportunity to be a buffer (between students and police),” Herman said. “It really provides a good opportunity because as much as the students are learning for their career, for their job, for life, they’re also learning how to live and how to interact and how to interact with law enforcement specifically.” 

Other than dealing with bike theft, public safety officers like Herman respond to calls for situations like locked doors, a car jump start, or tobacco or marijuana smoke on campus. 

Herman appreciates the opportunities he’s given as a public safety officer to interact with the OSU community.

“I’m super passionate about it,” Herman said. “I love the students. I love being able to have the opportunity to have so much community engagement… I went to school here myself so I really feel strongly about the community” 

The OSU police department also has an emergency management team led by Mike Bamberger, that prepares to respond for emergencies like natural disasters.  

“Our role is to keep the university moving towards preparedness,” Bamberger said. “So if (an emergency) does happen, we then can switch in how we can help coordinate the response piece.” 

Bamberger’s emergency response team prepares themselves in case the DPS or OSU police need their assistance during an emergency. Afterwards, Bamberger would be among those who deal with potential damages. 

“Like after the ice storm and the (property) damage we had,” Bamberger said. “(Our team was) working to get (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money come in and help reimburse some of that, per their programs.” 

DPS and Anderson want OSU students to be able to rely on them as a dependable resource. 

“Everyone comes with their own experiences and expectations,” Anderson said. “I would love for everyone to see us as a resource. As someone who is here to help facilitate (the students’) time here on campus.” 

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