New name, same commitment to safety

To better reflect the holistic approach to safety at the University of Utah, the Department of Public Safety has changed its name to the University Safety Department. The name change also acknowledges an updated and expanded organizational structure, designed to better meet the needs of the U community.

In 2019, the University of Utah created a new Chief Safety Officer (CSO) position at the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety. The role was designed to provide oversight and coordination of all campus safety initiatives, as well as supervise the former Department of Public Safety.

Almost immediately after joining the U, inaugural Chief Safety Officer Marlon C. Lynch restructured the department by adding new leadership throughout the organization and elevating and growing existing operational divisions to increase capacity, improve accountability and better meet the needs of the U community.

He also created a new centralized administrative office responsible for compliance, accreditation management, financial planning, strategic planning, marketing and communications, professional responsibility, committee coordination, IT strategy, and community engagement in coordination with the divisions of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Previously, public safety services reported through the chief of police, who was also the head of the Department of Public Safety. Under the new structure, there are six operational divisions that all report directly to the CSO. These divisions include University Police, Campus Security, U Health Security, Community Services, Emergency Communications, and Emergency Management.

As part of the expanded mission of the University Safety Department, it will also coordinate closely with other areas of campus that have direct responsibility for aspects of safety, including many units within Student Affairs, Facilities Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Global Engagement and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

In addition to these changes, two new public safety committees were established in 2020. The Public Safety Advisory Committee and the Independent Review Committee are comprised of students, faculty and staff from across the institution and are designed to ensure a broad representation of constituents are included in public safety decision-making.

The department is also seeking accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which requires that agencies meet an established set of professional standards and best practices. As part of this effort, the department will move into a new building in 2022. It will include a community gathering space, private areas to support victims, workspaces for student interns and state-of-the-art technology to support the future of public safety.

“This is a transformational time,” said Interim CSO Keith Squires. “I am honored to continue leading this vision and creating a culture of safety for everyone at the U.”