Oregon State University names interm police chief

The new police force run by the university will take over July 1.

Posted: May 13, 2020 12:33 PM
Updated: May 13, 2020 7:30 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University has named an interim police chief.

University leaders said Edgar Rodriguez will start on May 25 with a new police force run by the university taking over on July 1.

Paul Odenthal oversees public safety for OSU. He believes they made the right choice for chief within the short window. The OSU Board of Trustees established their own force one month ago.

"Ownership helps to control that culture and align it to the expectation and values and principals that we desire," Odenthal said.

RELATED: OSU TO GET FEEDBACK ON THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC SAFETY ON CAMPUS

The university is currently patrolled by Oregon State Police. They are ending their contract with the OSU on June 30. They announced they would be ending the contract weeks after a controversial arrest was caught on camera.

Student Genesis Hansen, who identifies as mixed race, was thrown to the ground after she refused trooper's commands. She was originally stopped for allegedly riding her bike on the wrong side of the road.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: VIRAL ARREST NEAR OSU CAUSES STIR OVER ALLEGED RACIAL BIAS

The arrest drew criticism from university leadership. But OSP said the decision to leave was months in the making and based on the need for troopers to patrol other parts of the state.

Freshman Nick Martushev said he is happy OSU is starting their own police force but is worried they won't make their July 1 deadline. 

"With all this virus stuff going down a lot of things are getting pushed back," Martushev said

Rodriguez has served in positions with the Department of Public Safety at Quinnipiac University, the Connecticut State Police and the Beacon Falls Police Department in Connecticut.  He is expected to serve in the interim role for two years, leading the university’s planning and development of community-based law enforcement and public safety services and programs on the Corvallis campus.

Odenthal said it will take years to get the department fully off the ground but is confident they will be ready to keep the peace by July 1.

"Between our organization and working with law enforcement partners in the area, we will have the proper staffing commitment on campus to maintain the proper safety," Odenthal said.

He said they also plan to hire around 17 people including officers and more.

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