aerial view of University of Utah campus

U Safety organizational changes

This piece originally appeared on the Safety News site

The University of Utah Safety Department (U Safety) is committed to creating a safe and empowered campus community. Achieving that mission requires a campus-wide commitment and a determination to continually improve. Today, we’re taking important steps to improve campus safety as we work towards national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

U Safety will add two senior-level positions: a deputy chief safety officer for support services and a deputy chief safety officer/police chief. These two roles will improve coordination, communication and access to services, all while reducing costly overlap. We take this action after a careful examination of the valuable lessons learned in recent years. The hiring process will begin with a national search for the deputy chief Safety officer for support services position and we will release an updated organizational chart once both hires are made.

Since taking the role of chief safety officer at the beginning of January, and based in part on the insight I gained in my time as interim CSO, I have recognized the importance of connecting U Safety with the rest of campus and improving our communication and coordination efforts. Our students interact with many departments during their university experience; we must redouble our efforts to ensure the excellent resources of U Safety are easily accessible and operating in a coordinated manner.

Strengthening our partnerships throughout campus also allows us to assist students, faculty and staff in a holistic way without duplicating efforts or inadvertently creating a complex maze for victims to navigate in order to access the help they need.

As we realign leadership roles within U Safety, we are strengthening the connection between our community support professionals and our peace officers. Doing so will help victims and survivors by designating a liaison to guide them through the investigation and prosecution phases, while also connecting them with available counseling and recovery resources.

Effective organizations depend on great personnel and we are fortunate to have some of the very best. One of those is Lt. Heather Sturzenegger whose leadership of the Investigation Division in the Police Department has been exemplary. She is the right choice to oversee our victim/survivor support services to ensure their work is integrated with all police services going forward.

These changes will improve our ability to provide a safe campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors as we continue to work toward achieving accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which is recognized as the “gold standard” in public safety and requires meeting a set of professional standards that adhere to best practices related to health, safety and security procedures.