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SALT LAKE CITY – There are five new faces on the University of Utah’s campus in direct response to an independent investigation of the university’s safety protocols following the death of student, Lauren McCluskey.
From the review, which wrapped up in December, 30 recommendations were given to the university. Of those, 26 have been completed with new hires, new training and new safety protocol.
Jamie Justice is one of the new employees. She is the first victim advocate assigned to the University of Utah Department of Public Safety. Her job is to be there with victims from the very beginning.
“A lot of times when you’re interacting with victims, survivors, this is the worst part of their life. The relationship with the victim can start as early as the night of the crime, or it can be after there’s a report that’s made,” Justice said. “I’m here to help people. I want to. I want to because I care.”
Her role was created after a three-member panel looked into the handling of Lauren McCluskey’s case. It concluded that campus victim advocates should have been engaged earlier in the investigation, but that campus police “does not have a coordinated working relationship” with them. With Justice’s position, that has changed.
“I will be working within the police department. So I’ll be working with the investigators, detectives, patrol officers, and I’m able to create that relationship with both the professionals, my colleagues, and with the victim,” she said.
The story of Lauren McCluskey, the University of Utah track star who was shot and killed on campus by her ex-boyfriend in October, is the topic of NBC "Dateline's" newest episode, which aired Monday night.
The investigative documentary-style show is known for its in-depth looks into high-profile criminal cases.
Lauren's parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, were interviewed in the documentary. The episode also featured interviews with Utahns connected to the case, including KSL NewsRadio's Debbie Dujanovic and Salt Lake Tribune reporter Courtney Tanner.
"It's a story that could so easily have ended differently if just one phone call had been made, one dot connected," Josh Mankiewicz, "Dateline" reporter surmises in the episode trailer.
Annalisa Purser with the university’s Marketing and Communications department said, in addition, Housing and Residential Education hired a new employee to serve as resident outreach manager; and another case manager was hired to supplement the Behavioral Intervention Team.
“There’s constant changes going on,” Purser said. “There’s improved and increased trainings and there’s more collaboration.”
The campus also implemented several new policies and trainings, including ensuring all police officers completed the Lethality Assessment Protocol.
In February, the University of Utah launched a website that outlines the status of each of the recommendations.
It shows four recommendations are in the process of being completed, three of which have the university plans to complete this summer.
The fourth, recommendation 28, would add a brand new University of Utah Department of Public Safety building to campus. The university plans to conduct a study to consider a new facility by the end of this year.
Purser said although there is no definite timeline on completing that recommendation, the university is committed to implementing all 30 in a timely manner.
“It’s clear that there is a real commitment and a focus on this by how dedicated the entire university has been to making sure that the progress is happening,” she said.
Contributing: Lauren Bennett, KSL.com