PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An armed sheriff's deputy has started patrolling an Oregon college where a gunman killed nine people and himself last month.
Douglas County deputy Scott Batsch began patrols Monday at Umpqua Community College. When a shooter attacked the Roseburg campus Oct. 1, it had one guard armed only with pepper spray.
Batsch is a recently retired deputy with experience as a school resource officer, patrolman and detective. Umpqua's $30,000 contract with Douglas County will pay for him to be on campus seven hours a day, five days a week through June 30, The Oregonian reported (http://bit.ly/1L84B74). He will have a car on campus but mostly will patrol on foot.
Oregon law says community colleges can't employ armed officers, but they can contract with police agencies for the service.
"Obviously the school has been through a lot and the community has been through a lot, and having that uniformed presence will make everyone involved feel a little bit better going forward," said Cpl. Dwes Hutson, the sheriff's department spokesman.
Students protested at Portland State University and the University of Oregon when administrators decided to arm their officers. But Anne Marie Levis, Umpqua Community College public information officer, expects no opposition on the Roseburg campus.
"After a tragedy like this, people have a different perspective," Levis said. "We've had other armed police officers on campus, so it's one of those things that just gives people peace of mind, at this point."
Oregon State Police troopers and other armed officers have patrolled Umpqua's campus at times since the shootings, Levis said.
County Commissioner Tim Freeman said the college requested the contract, which he and the other two commissioners approved.
"It's a large campus, so it's hard to say that having one armed officer, depending on the situation, could have been effective," Freeman said. "I don't want to give any false illusions about how much or how little it'll make things better."
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com