Captain of the University of Oregon police department, Jason Wade, puts his hat in the ring for UPD chief at HSU.
Following the retirement of former chief, Donn Peterson, in the end of May, the University Police Department has begun its official search for a new chief. Current captain of the University of Oregon Police Department, Jason Wade, is one of the two candidates currently in contention for the position.
Wade has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement, working primarily for the University of Colorado, Boulder Police Department and for the past six years with the UOPD. In his time with the UOPD, Wade has served as an instructor and director for their cadet academy, developed their body camera program and served as the internal affairs investigator managing the background process for new employees.
In today’s atmosphere of nation-wide calls for radical change regarding the country’s law enforcement system, Wade believes that rather than defund police departments, we need to re-think them.
“The police in the past were seen as the catch all. You know, if you have a problem you call them,” Wade said. “And the expectation was that they were able to respond and serve equally no matter what.”
Wade is of the mind, not every call for service requires the response of a police officer and that many non-violent calls would be better handled by mental health professionals.
“The police still are responsible for enforcing the laws and keeping people safe but how can we better address those issues,” Wade said. “That’s one of the largest levels of police reform, is the calls for service and how we respond with what we respond with.”
According to Wade, the benefit of having a campus police department, in specific, is the collaboration with the university that wouldn’t take place with a city department.
“The campus police department can be brought forward to help the campus,” Wade said. “We can be trained. We can work with the campus to develop the department that the campus needs.”
Campus police departments can also be held to a higher level of accountability by the university. Given the job, Wade plans to implement the policy work groups system currently in place at the UOPD.
The system involves reading every new policy or change in policy at the UPD to a community panel made up of students, staff and faculty of the university who are given the opportunity to weigh in on each policy.
“At some level there has to be oversight that allows the community to see what occurs behind the walls of a department,” Wade said. “So, they know that if a complaint, an allegation of misconduct or something is going on inside the department, that it’s being handled and handled appropriately – and if there is misconduct, that we’re taking measures to not let it happen again.”
When Wade started as a young police officer, he said it was all about how many tickets he would write, how fast he could drive and the fancy gadgets he got to play with.
“That was the mindset back in the late 90’s,” Wade said. “There were problems then, but we didn’t address them. We didn’t have the concepts of implicit bias training or crisis intervention training. I’ve seen change occur, but we’re not there, where we need to be, yet.”
Ultimately, Wade believes, rather than acting in the interest of whoever is in power, a UPD has to hold the best interest of the entire community above all, in order to succeed in creating a safe learning environment for students.
“This should never be the ‘Jason Wade’ Police Department,” Wade said. “Because that will not be successful.”