remarkably similar to that of a deputy sheriff. In an effort to raise the professional image of the team all CPS officers are required to wear the new uniform.
“The goal with this change was to raise the professional standard and have officers presented appropriately,” said CPS department manager Robert Dahl.
The new uniform consists of traditional black pants, uniform grey slate button up shirts, a newly designed badge and shoulder patches. In addition, all officers must wear a ballistic vest while on duty.
When Dahl came on board with CPS over a year ago, he said that the impression the general public had of CPS wasn’t a positive or valid one. Dahl connected their negative credibility to the fact that CPS officers did not look professional. Previously, officers wore polo t-shirts with iron on decals. They were also allowed to wear shorts while on duty. Dahl said the officers are no longer allowed to wear shorts and a grooming policy is clearly spelled out in their policies and procedures manual.
Although CPS is responsible for campus safety along with security of buildings and property, being an emergency response and rule enforcement the uniform change was not related directly to the students of Pacific.
“It’s clear to people who we are and what authority we carry,” said Dahl.
He said that CPS officers in have had to deal with dangerous citizens of the Forest Grove area who are involved in illegal activity. In the past, officers have been assaulted by certain citizens barring knives.
The ballistic vests, which were usually worn just to patrol the Lincoln Park Athletic Complex area, have become a constant for officers. The vest are light weight, 20 pounds, and provide protection from bullets, knives and general striking objects.
“Society has changed,” said Dahl. “The threats that are present in a large city are present here.”
The vests are a source of protection, but also a source of discomfort. Dahl said the ballistic vests are “tremendously uncomfortable” and the heat adds to the officer’s discomfort. But Dahl said “it’s like wearing a seatbelt in a car, it’s part of what we do.” He also mentioned that friends of his in the industry were surprised CPS officers hadn’t been wearing the vests round the clock.
“My job is to make sure these officers stay safe,” said Dahl.
And the response to the new uniforms has been of understanding.
Dahl said younger citizens of Forest Grove were fighting on the side of campus this summer, but when a CPS officer approached the scene, the fighting stopped instantaneously. Another instance of the uniforms having a stronger safety presence Dahl said was when a citizen of Forest Grove was attempting to steal a bike. When a CPS officer approached the citizen, they flew the scene. Dahl said there have been certain Forest Grove citizens known for causing trouble with CPS that have not challenged their authority since the uniform change.
“We are recognizable, and that’s our role,” said Dahl. “Though we are not the police department, there’s an impact with these uniforms. People see us and know who we are.”
On top of that, Dahl noticed during this falls freshmen orientation parent were comforted by seeing more official-looking CPS officers present.
The new image CPS is portraying is one of firm authority said Dahl.
Forest Grove citizens have also started coming up to CPS to ask for assistance, directions and help.
Dahl said Pacific and Forest Grove communities have given positive feedback thus far.
The officers have embraced the uniforms as well.
“All the officers are proud of the uniforms,” said Dahl. “They feel the need to preform to a higher standard with the uniforms.”