U of U president announces safety, police-review task forces after on-campus murder


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 2, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The University of Utah has announced task forces to improve campus safety and to review police department policies and procedures following the Oct. 22 murder of student Lauren McCluskey outside her dormitory.

McCluskey’s fatal shooting by a former boyfriend came nearly a year after the fatal shooting of U. student ChenWei Guo, 23, killed in a canyon near campus by a fugitive trying to steal his car.

U. President Ruth Watkins met with the media Friday morning to outline preliminary plans for increased safety, which include more lighting and security cameras, allowing students to park closer to buildings at night regardless of parking lot assignments, increased safety training, and more emphasis on existing safety procedures, including not allowing visitors into locked buildings.

Watkins also urged students, faculty and staff members to ask for help rather than risk their safety just because they may feel embarrassed to ask police for help, or they wonder if they are overreacting to a harmless situation.

“The strongest message we would have is reach out to the experts on our campus,” Watkins said. “If in doubt, reach out.”

Watkins announced two indiependent reviews: one on overall campus safety and one on how U. police handled the case of 21-year-old McCluskey, who had previously told officers about threats from Melvin Rowland, 37, believed to be her killer.

Three people will conduct both task forces. John T. Nielsen, former Department of Public Safety Commissioner, will chair the team. The other two members will be Keith Squires, current DPS Commissioner, and Sue Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

The task force’s report should be complete by mid-December, Watkins said.

Watkins said she has continued contact with McCluskey’s parents, who are very anxious to see improvements made, she said.

To see the full news conference, click on the player above.

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Lauren McCluskey has been identified by University of Utah officials as the student killed in a shooting on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Photo: University of Utah/Steve C. Wilson

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