By John Rogers /// Staff Writer
Later this year, Lewis & Clark College plans to put their agreement and proposed relationship with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission on paper.
For the past decade, the College has maintained a signed partnership between Campus Safety staff, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County Neighborhood District Attorney and the Crime Prevention Coordinator for Southwest Portland neighborhoods. The partnership was created to “enhance public safety and the quality of life at LC by strengthening the working relationship” between the aforementioned groups. An updated agreement was last signed into effect in 2009 and is due for renewal. The description of the OLCC’s involvement in the coming partnership agreement—or “memorandum of understanding,” as Director of Campus Safety Tim O’Dwyer prefers it called—will mirror that of the Portland Police’s current written agreement.
The main pillars of the current partnership agreement between the Portland Police and Campus Safety states that campus safety officers will maintain a safe, secure campus and will involve the Portland Police when they find evidence of felonies on campus. In return, the Portland Police Bureau is urged to communicate and share information regarding investigations held on campus. Based on the lesser severity of alcohol related crimes, the circumstances in which Campus Safety will contact the OLCC have yet to be disclosed.
The student body’s understanding of the OLCC is vague at best. The agency’s sudden arrival in 2012 was surprising and unexplained. According to O’Dwyer, before 2012, “the OLCC was not actively working neighborhood alcohol issues to the extent that they now are. He said that prior to 2012, OLCC “had nothing to do with” the alcohol related crimes that have recently drawn them to LC’s campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. This presence is in part due to the strengthened alliance between Portland Police Bureau and the OLCC. This working relationship means that the OLCC already has an indirect connection with LC through the College’s current relationship with Portland Police Bureau.
To understand the current emergency response system used in Portland, one must start with BOEC, the Bureau of Emergency Communications. BOEC handles all 911 calls for the city of Portland. When a call is received, operators direct it to whichever emergency response agencies are best equipped for the incident. When an alcohol related incident is reported, OLCC officers are often assigned to the call. The OLCC is now an integrated agency in the city’s emergency response system, communicating with the Portland Police and providing “cover” to Portland Fire & Rescue and American Medical when requested. According to O’Dwyer, the city is in the midst of a transition. Due to resource limitations and lack of knowledge of alcohol laws, Portland Police now rely more heavily on the OLCC to handle many alcohol-related crimes.
Partnership or not, OLCC has the power to maintain their presence in and around LC’s campus as long as alcohol-related offenses and emergencies continue to be reported. For O’Dwyer, their growing presence is a blessing. “I absolutely support having the OLCC being part of the effort to curb underage drinking, and so does the College. The number of complaints from neighbors in regards to some minority of LC students who drink and get out of control in neighborhoods has dropped off precipitously since the OLCC has become part of that equation.”
The results can be seen in the College’s Clery Act report, which showed a spike in alcohol related arrests on campus from zero in 2011 to eighteen in 2012. By adding the OLCC to its current partnership agreement, LC is showing its support and willingness to cooperate with the OLCC and their mission. How, if at all, the new partnership agreement will affect LC students is yet to be seen.