SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to improve accountability, the University of Utah announced Monday a reorganization of its public safety infrastructure.
The university’s emergency management, health security and campus security divisions will now all report to Marlon Lynch, the U.’s first chief safety officer, who took office in February. Those divisions previously reported to the university’s police department. University of Utah Police Chief Rodney Chatman will also report to Lynch.
The university also announced Monday a new community services division is being created to help crime victims. And former Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires is being hired by the U. as an executive officer “focusing on relationships with external public safety agencies and public safety committee management,” according to a statement from the school.
In addition, a new security and law enforcement technology director will be hired to provide technical support to the department as well as oversee technical aspects of the department.
“Policing is the most visible and has been a major part of public safety, but it’s not the only component of public safety. It also includes security, emergency management and victim services. These changes reflect the variety of needs of the public, while also ensuring the services are coordinated. Additionally, this model formalizes opportunities for campus involvement and oversight,” Lynch said.
A groundbreaking for a new building to support these functions is scheduled for the end of the year, according to the university.
The changes reflect steps the University of Utah has been taking to reestablish trust after the on-campus murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey in October 2018 and lingering questions about the public safety department’s handling of her repeated complaints prior to her death that she was being stalked, harassed and extorted by an ex-boyfriend.
Her parents have filed a $56 million lawsuit against the university alleging campus police and housing officials ignored their daughter’s multiple reports to authorities prior to her death.