University of Utah statement on campus safety actions

Our campus community continues to grieve the loss of Lauren McCluskey, a vibrant and promising young woman, student and athlete. We know this grief pales in comparison to the heartache of her parents, who lost their daughter in a horrific crime.

Lauren’s parents and others have raised important questions about whether the university’s public safety, student housing and other departments did everything they could to prevent the crime that took their daughter’s life.

The university has acknowledged gaps and mistakes in its operations, communication and processes and is acting on its commitment to take steps to reduce the likelihood of such a terrible tragedy happening again on campus.

Immediately after Lauren’s death in October 2018, University President Ruth Watkins commissioned an independent and thorough review from three outside experts covering every aspect of campus security. Those experts included two highly respected former commissioners of public safety in Utah and a former university police chief who now serves as the head of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. The report was received in December 2018 and included 30 specific recommendations for improvements in policies and procedures, policing, security, staffing and campus communications.

Since receiving the list of recommendations made by the independent review committee six months ago, the university has implemented, or has established a timeline to complete, all 30 of them. A full accounting of those recommendations and the status of each project is available online at safeu.utah.edu/recommendations.

Actions taken include, among other things, changes to processes in the campus police and housing divisions, as well as hiring an outreach coordinator in housing and a victim advocate and a detective who specializes in interpersonal violence in the Department of Public Safety.

In addition to the 30 recommendations, the University of Utah is committed to fostering a culture of safety, with ongoing efforts to improve infrastructure, practices, campus awareness, and response to daily incidents as well as during crises.

University of Utah Department of Public Safety statement:

The University of Utah Department of Public Safety expresses its sincere sympathy to the McCluskey family and all those who mourn Lauren’s loss. The department is committed to learning from this tragedy and fully implementing all of the recommendations put forth by the independent review committee. The department’s staff has completed training (including the Lethality Assessment Protocol), updated policies, created new positions and hired highly qualified people with expertise in victim support and interpersonal violence investigation, among other actions. Moving forward, we are deeply committed to working with our partners on campus and in the community to promote a culture of safety.