'Kaylee's Law' would change requirements for privately-hired campus security

Kaylee Sawyer (Photo courtesy Redmond Police)

A bill is getting bipartisan support in the Oregon Legislature as it looks to making sweeping changes to how privately hired campus security officers are brought on the job and how they operate while patrolling.

"The security of our students and the protection of those students is paramount," said State Senator Tim Knopp, one of the bill's chief sponsors. "It's too late to save Kaylee, but we want to honor her memory by protecting every other student in the best way we can."

Kaylee Sawyer was murdered in July 2016. Edwin Lara avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to killing her. Investigators say he tried to sexually assault her before he intentionally ran her over with his marked campus security car.

Knopp says had "Kaylee's Law" been in place at the time, Sawyer may never have gotten in Lara's vehicle.

"Essentially what she believed was happening was she was in a secure location with a trusted individual," Sen. Knopp said. "It turns out that that trusted individual had evil intent and ultimately murdered her and was able to get her in the back of what looked like a police vehicle because she trusted that it was a safe place."

Under Senate Bill 576, privately-hired campus security officers would not have red and blue flashing lights on their vehicles. Large front bumpers, like the one Lara had on his car, would also not be allowed.

Those security officer vehicles would also be required to be equipped with GPS tracking technology and a surveillance camera so colleges and universities can keep better track of them.

The changes only apply to privately-hired security officers. Campus police, such as what Portland State University has, would not be impacted by the bill.

Knopp says he's not sure whether this could have the ripple effect of having more community colleges and universities scrapping privately-hired security guards in favor of their own fleet.

"They can have a police force or they can have campus security agency, but what they can't have - according to this bill - is a campus security agency that acts like a police force without the responsibility and accountability that goes along with that police force," Knopp said.

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