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U peace officers to stop carrying nightsticks on campus

After reviewing the footage that captured the disturbing events that led to the murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, University of Utah Department of Public Safety (UUDPS) leaders say they will no longer use nightsticks on campus.

Chief Safety Officer Keith Squires said the recommendation came from within the department.

“The peace officers on my team came to me stating they were outraged with what they saw captured in the footage, and I agree,” Squires said. “I appreciate the collaborative nature of the team members within my department and the ways they continue to reflect on our shared values and finds ways to better serve our community.”

Squires and Public Safety leaders announced the recommendation to end the use of nightsticks—also known as expandable batons—to nearly 100 students, faculty, staff and community members attending the panel discussion, “Reimagining Public Safety: Dream realized or deferred?” on the Day of Collective Action, Feb. 8.

Safety leaders are reviewing all policies, procedures and practices as they restructure the department and seek accreditations, both in-state and nationally. The multi-year accreditation process started in 2020 with a goal to become certified by the International Association of College Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). Meeting the long-term goal signifies U Department of Public Safety has met the set of professional standards set by IACLEA.

“We are continually making improvements designed to help us better reflect the community we serve,” said Squires.

The panel discussion, hosted by the Department of Public Safety, was scheduled as part of the Day of Collective Action (DOCA) events. 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.

“Nightsticks are essentially outdated pain compliance devices that are rarely used in modern policing,” Squires said, in response to a question about their use in policing.

Squires and University Police Capt. Jason Hinojosa both said that they’ve been trained on such devices since the beginning of their law enforcement careers. Both Squires and Hinojosa said they have never used batons or nightsticks in protecting themselves or others from being harmed in the line of duty.

“Over the course of my entire career I have never used it, other than to, you know, break a window to get somebody out of a car, or to reach something stuck underneath my bed,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa continued to explain there are technologies available to officers when taking a suspect into custody. These new technologies will greatly reduce the chances of injury occurring to both suspects and officers. Policing on university campuses demands a greater emphasis on communication and de-escalation as the primary approach to any safety concern.

Watch the recording of the event below

Nightstick/baton announcement: timestamp 1:22:30