When Suzy Tannenbaum came on as director of public safety at Oregon State University last July, she noticed something a little different about her officers.
They were all wearing different colored uniforms.
“Some were wearing black, some were wearing blue, some were a mix and match,” she said. There was nothing consistent or cohesive about their attire.
Tannenbaum noticed something else, too. Unless you were directly behind one of their vehicles, the public safety vehicles her officers were driving looked like nondescript facilities vehicles. And that was a problem.
“People were telling me, ‘We never see your staff around campus. We see Oregon State Police and Corvallis police, but never you.’”
Her staff were there, all right, it’s just that no one recognized or noticed. But on March 1, people are going to notice. That’s the day that Tannenbaum, Sgt. Jared Bilyeu and her 10 officers will roll out their brand new black uniforms, complete with the new OSU logo patch on their right shoulders, and black jackets clearly marking them as part of the Department of Public Safety.
Each member of the team is receiving two long and two short sleeved shirts, three pairs of pants and a coat. The officers work four ten-hour patrols a week, and are out in all elements, so having extra changes of clothes is essential.
“You never know what you’re going to get on your uniform when you go out there,” Tannenbaum said. The uniforms are also sex-specific, which was not always the case with law enforcement uniforms. Tannenbaum recalled with a laugh her first bullet-proof vest, which was completely flat on the front and did not work well for female officers.
Tannenbaum said it benefits both the safety of her officers and the general public to have her team be clearly recognizable as they perform their duties. The new uniforms clearly delineate the officers from OSP and hired security details.
In addition to the uniforms, the department is going to cease leasing their current nondescript vehicles and have purchased two Ford Police Interceptor SUVs and a Ram 1500 four-door truck, which are black, and wrapped in bright orange with “Public Safety Oregon State University” clearly written on the sides. Buying new vehicles outright will ultimately save the department money, Tannenbaum said, and the truck will allow the department to haul a utility trailer that can help them haul stolen goods like bikes more easily.
The new look is also the result of a collaboration between DPS and University Marketing.
“One of our officers designed the vehicle wrap and one designed the uniform patch,” Tannenbaum said. “They utilized their artistic talents and brought the ideas forward.”
And that is another point of pride the department takes in their new look.
“This is our department. This is OSU’s department. We need to show that. We want to have people see us and know we’re out there to keep them safe.”
~ Theresa Hogue