PORTLAND -- The Oregon Health & Science University Hospital board approved a plan Thursday to issue firearms to its 25-member police force.

An OHSU task force first recommended a policy change in the wake of the 2007 shooting that killed dozens of people at Virginia Tech.

Greg Mowad, the OSHUDirector of Public Safety, said in that type of situation Portland police just can't respond fast enough.

That leads to a between seven and 15 minute response time for Portland Police Bureau, he said. Virginia Tech, from start to finish, was a little over seven minutes. And so we end up in a situation where time equals life.

It's been a slow process, but security officials expect the force to be armed by mid-September.

Because OHSU treats a lot of patients who suffer from mental illnesses, officers will be trained to deescalate potentially violent situations before opting for the use of lethal force.

Read or Share this story: