BEND, Ore. -
(Update: Adding comments from campus resource officer, COCC director of campus public safety, Police Chief Jim Porter)
Central Oregon Community College, the city of Bend and the Bend Police Department announced Tuesday that veteran Officer Christian Smelser has begun his duties this week as the school's first college resource officer.
Creating the position, announced in June, is just one of several steps taken following the murder of student Kaylee Sawyer in 2016 in an effort to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
Smelser started his new role Monday. He told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday his goals for the rest of the academic year include establishing relationships with the students.
As a 12-year veteran of the police department, Smelser said he also wants to help smooth the transition of how crimes are reported between the college and the police department.
COCC Director of Campus Public Safety Peter Ostrovsky said addressing crime and other problems on campus begins from a personal level. He said the new college resource officer position will take a “multi-layered approach.”
“In any community, there are always underlying issues, and so community members need varying levels of support,” Ostrovsky said. “Crime sometimes is a byproduct of lack of support, or societal or personal situations.”
Both Smelser and Ostrovsky said establishing positive relationships with students and campus staff is key to keeping the community safe.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said his department views the new position as an extension of their existing school resource officer program in Bend-La Pine Schools.
“We now see children from entering school, going through middle school and all through high school, and this gives the ability to see them through college also,” Porter said.
Here are more details from the city and school's joint announcement:
The college resource officer, an employee of the city, was recruited and selected by the Bend Police Department, with input from the college, the organizations aid in their joint announcement.
The CRO will serve full-time on the Bend campus, and the cost for funding the position will be split equally between the city and the college.
The position was created as a partnership between the college and the city, and follows an earlier memorandum of understanding in which the two clarified the respective roles of COCC’s Campus Public Safety and the Bend Police Department relating to security, safety and law enforcement on the college’s Bend campus.
Smelser has been a school resource officer with Bend-La Pine Schools for the past three years, working with middle schools and Marshall High School. He will continue as a Bend Police Department employee, but will work day-to-day with the Campus Public Safety department on the COCC Bend campus.
“We are pleased to take another step in our partnership between the college and the Bend Police Department,” said Peter Ostrovsky, director of campus public safety at COCC. “The CRO will serve as a critical conduit for communications, reporting and operations between our two entities, and will promote situational crime prevention for campus community members, and especially our students.”
Bend Chief of Police Jim Porter said, “Central Oregon Community College is one of the police department’s longest-standing partners, providing us with exceptional police officer candidates from their award-winning criminal justice program, hosting the local Reserve Police Academy in support of all Central Oregon law enforcement agencies, organizing emergency response exercises on their campus, hosting the police apprenticeship program, and, most recently, the development and fiscal support for the College Resource Officer.
“The Bend Police Department is very grateful for the opportunity Central Oregon Community College has provided us by partnering in developing and partial financing of the College Resource Officer position,” Porter added.