SALEM— Gov. Kate Brown on Friday signed into law a bill meant to avert incidents like the murder of a Bend woman by an on-duty campus security officer at Central Oregon Community College.
Brown signed Senate Bill 576, known as “Kaylee’s Law,” after Kaylee Sawyer. She was abducted by COCC security guard Edwin Enoc Lara at night in July 2016, raped and bludgeoned to death. The law mandates steps to ensure that campus officers and their equipment do not resemble law enforcement or that officers act in any law enforcement capacity. “Kaylee’s Law” goes into effect immediately.
Under state law, the governor had five days to sign the bill after it was officially forwarded to her by the Legislature. The bill had been approved unanimously by the Senate and House. It was officially sent to Brown on Monday.
While Friday’s signing makes the bill become law, Brown said she planned to hold a ceremonial signing early this summer that will include Kaylee Sawyer’s family, along with political and law enforcement officials who backed the bill.
“I think this legislation is incredibly important,” Brown said Thursday in advance of the signing. “I want to say to the family that has worked so hard to turn this tragedy into good public policy, ‘Thank you.’”
SB 576 is intended to ensure that campus security vehicles, uniforms and equipment do not appear to be law enforcement. The vehicles cannot have roof-top lights or a push bumper in front. Vehicles cannot have a divider, known as a “cage,” between the front and back seats. They must have GPS, an interior video camera or dispatch system that is recorded. Campus officers would be prohibited from making vehicle stops or “stop and frisk” individuals. Comprehensive national background checks and psychological testing would also be required before a security officer could be hired.
The bill’s chief co-sponsors included Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend. It was backed by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, and statewide associations of police, sheriffs and students.
Lara pleaded guilty in January 2018 to the aggravated murder and robbery of Sawyer. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty to federal kidnapping and carjacking April 25 and received a concurrent life sentence. Those charges were related to what U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane termed a “brutal crime spree” immediately after Sawyer’s murder.
Lara kidnapped a woman in Salem and fled to California. In Yreka, Lara shot a man and carjacked a vehicle with three people inside. He surrendered to the California Highway Patrol near Redding. Lara faces felony charges in Siskiyou County.
— Reporter: 541-640-2750, email@example.com