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Did the University of Utah make security changes after the assassination of Lauren McCluskey?

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Did the University of Utah make security changes after the assassination of Lauren McCluskey?

About 3 and a half years after the murder of Utah University athlete Lauren McCluskey on campus, the results of a new legislative audit of campus police departments “resonate” with the same problems of independent review that followed McCluskey’s death.

“The report recommends that the campus community learn about the expectation to report threats or potential threats through appropriate channels, including U.S. police. … We believe that such reporting does not happen in all cases, ”the audit says.

The audit cites three separate incidents in which university police did not receive timely information. According to U.S. police, the incidents included:

  • The attack in 2021 resulted in a dispute between roommates over alleged drug payments. One roommate listed in court records as 21-year-old Kang Jie Li is accused of putting a kitchen knife to his roommate’s throat and forcing him to send payment through Venmo. The incident was not reported for almost 24 hours. Lee was arrested late last year and remains in jail.

According to the court, Lee faces numerous charges in the 3rd District Court, including four felonies, including aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, witness retaliation and aggravated kidnapping.

  • Potential hate crime reported to the Department of Housing and Housing Education in the fall of 2021, but not to the police. The case remains open.
  • Reports that a student is masturbating during classes in 2019. After two weeks later other students reported the incident to police, officers reviewed audio recordings of the lecture and summoned the student for questioning. The student was brought to administrative responsibility.

The case of a student who was threatened by a roommate was not reported to the police almost 24 hours after the housing and communal services officers found out that “it is impossible to take immediate measures for the U. police,” the inspection said.

“Indeed, as soon as the police responded, their investigation revealed additional, very relevant criminal behavior in addition to the initial indictment. After that, the police were able to detain the criminal, ”the inspection shows.

The auditors wrote that the delays in reporting to the University of Utah police “negatively affected the safety of the population due to the missed opportunity for more timely assessment and response.”

In an interview Wednesday night, Acting U.S. Police Chief Jason Hinahosa said he would like to see the incidents reported earlier in each case, but there are times when witnesses, victims and survivors are reluctant to speak.

“We would like to know a little earlier for obvious reasons. But when we did receive the information, we took action, did a lot of interviews and quickly found him and put him in custody, ”Hinahosa said of the alleged attack on his roommate.

The University continues to train staff and lifelong learning to achieve a balance of respect for the rights of victims, but at the same time instills in staff the need to report information to the police.

“If a reported crime is a persistent or ongoing threat to public safety on campus, then we need to have that information so we can act to mitigate that threat. We don’t want anyone else to be a victim, ”Hinahosa said.

The audit recommends U. eliminate the shortcomings of reporting in Claire’s Law by optimizing the many ways of reporting.

U.S. Chief of Staff Keith Squires was part of a team that conducted an independent investigation into McCluskey’s 2018 assassination. He is a former commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety and was appointed to his current position in January 2022.

After an external review, “I know how important it is to have an outlook, look at your work and possibly help you find areas you can improve, so this whole process has been very healthy for me,” Squires told Wednesday. Deseret News.

The audit was released Wednesday during a meeting of the Audit Subcommittee of the Utah Legislature.

Squires said the university has made “impressive progress in communication and coordination between public safety and other agencies over the past three years, but there is always the possibility that the victim or victims may pass on information and pass it on to someone. who is in a foster position, for example, in housing. It may be a place where it is not reported as quickly as one would like. “

Legislative audit «Inspection of the activities of higher police departments”Also expressed concern about crimes committed in the university’s health care system that were not registered as required by the Clery Act.

The Claire Act requires public and private colleges and universities to disclose information about certain crimes that occur on or near campus. This applies to all colleges and universities that receive federal funding, including financial aid to students.

“What they (the legislative auditors) found was indeed the result of the active efforts we made here at the university last year,” which included referrals from university security and police chiefs, the General Counsel, the Health Administration, the Office of Equal Opportunities and Positives. actions, and student services jointly on training under the Clergy Act.

“After this training, they found that there is some responsibility for the fact that our clinics, which are located off-campus, are starting to report information about the crime that is happening there. These are crimes reported by Claire in our report that we simply did not know about before. So once we find out that we are now including this information and, again, this is also due to the fact that it is not our police jurisdiction, so we need to work in collaboration with any police department that has jurisdiction in this area, ”Squires said.

The audit also found gaps in how the higher education system responded to legislation passed in 2020 and 2021, which requires state reporting on crimes committed on campus, and a nationwide study of the strengths and weaknesses of law enforcement on campus.

The audit included numerous recommendations for police agencies at each of the public colleges and universities that are part of Utah’s higher education system. With the exception of Salt Lake Community College, all campuses have law enforcement. SLCC enters into contracts with the Utah Road Patrol.

Regardless of the agreement, each campus is responsible for complying with the Claire Act, the auditors wrote.

The audit found data entry errors in almost all USRE Clery Act crime reports. “Such errors could result in US Department of Education fines,” the auditors wrote.

The auditors identified 141 “potential data entry errors in the Claire Act,” 73 of them at Dixie State University between 2016 and 2019. The auditors found 23 data entry errors at Snow College, 14 at the University of Utah and a dozen at the University of Valley and Weber. State University. Six were enrolled in the U., one at the SLCC and none at the University of Southern Utah.

The audit notes that Dixie State and UVU reported that the new guide, established since 2019, found errors and steps were taken to improve data entry.

The auditors also recommended that public colleges and universities awarding diplomas consider accreditation as a tool to review and improve police performance with the independence and accountability of an outside organization.

In a written response to the audit, the Utah Higher Education System noted that Dixie State University and the University of Utah were accredited through the Utah Police Chiefs Association. Meanwhile, the University of Utah is working on accreditation through the Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission.

“Although accreditation costs both time and money, and it does not guarantee immediate improvement, we believe that the benefits of this option should be considered,” the USHE said in a response.

A recent review of incidents reported to the Department of Education and Housing, conducted by Husch Blackwell and commissioned by U., looked at 1,620 reports of incidents in the fall of 2021, ranging from burning candles in a dormitory room to serious problems security.

“Hush Blackwell found that in almost all cases, incidents were exacerbated or reported to the appropriate office in accordance with university protocols. The report states that less than 1% believe situations where housing security incidents or racist / biased incidents have not been properly communicated to university offices or the university community in a timely manner.

“While progress can be made toward best practices, the report says Utah University policies and practices are within national higher education standards,” the university said in a summary.

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