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‘Reimagining Public Safety: Dream realized or deferred?’

University of Utah Department of Public Safety leaders continued their campus outreach campaign during the Day of Collective Action (DOCA), on Feb. 8.

“Our listening tour really is an opportunity for us to listen and hear what the concerns are, what the fears are, what recommendations and innovations can we learn from our community,” said Keith Squires, chief safety officer of the University of Utah Department of Public Safety. “Those suggestions give us a chance to do something we haven’t done before.”

The DOCA was designed to offer the campus community an opportunity to learn, reflect and find ways to work to end and dismantle all forms of discrimination at the U. Nearly 100 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the department’s DOCA panel discussion, “Reimagining Public Safety: Dream realized or deferred?” both in-person and via Zoom.

“It’s important to note this topic was chosen for a reason,” said panel moderator Dr. Tracie L. Keesee, co-founder, president and chief operating officer of the Center for Policing Equity “Unfortunately, [this discussion is very] timely, especially after what we witnessed in Memphis.”


Keesee asked panelists to share their thoughts on topics, including:

  • Between the murder of George Floyd to the recent murder of Tyre Nichols, over 300 pieces of legislation have been passed throughout the country, what are we supposed to do now?
  • What does it mean to work within systems of power?
  • What should policing and safety services look like on university campuses?
  • Is defunding the police a realistic solution?
  • Can true justice can ever be obtained?
  • What does safety at the University of Utah look like in the future?

One highlight of the evening came in the form of a recommendation from a student audience member. The student shared a personal experience of encountering an intoxicated student who needed assistance and was hesitant to call the Salt Lake City Police Department but was willing to connect with U Police. But no one knew the number to call. The student recommended UUDPS create a three-digit code that would be easy to remember and could be used any time someone on campus needs help.

“I just want to say, that’s a great example right there of us learning something and hearing something that can make a difference and we’ll definitely act upon it,” Squires said.

Panelists included:

  • Keith D. Squires, chief safety officer, University of Utah Department of Public Safety
  • Jason Hinojosa, interim chief of police, University of Utah Department of Public Safety
  • Keith Embray, executive director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, University of Utah Athletics
  • Nahum Tadesse, lead presidential intern, University of Utah
  • Muskan Walia, Department of Public Safety intern, University of Utah

Request a listening session

Members of the university community unable to attend the panel discussion can request a tailored listening session for their college, department or office. The listening sessions can be one-on-one, in small groups or with larger gatherings. The sessions can either be held at the Public Safety Building (complete with a tour) or at a preferred location. Food and drinks will be provided by DPS.

If you are interested in scheduling a session or would like more information, please contact Brian Nicholls, special assistant to the chief safety officer at