LOCAL NEWS

University of Utah Police Officer Disciplined After Lauren McCluskey Murder

Jul 1, 2019, 5:45 PM | Updated: Jul 3, 2019, 4:53 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A University of Utah police officer accused in a recent lawsuit of mishandling reports in the Lauren McCluskey murder last fall of mishandling reports in the Lauren McCluskey murder last fall, received a written warning for similar mistakes in a domestic violence case several months later.  That’s according to a disciplinary letter released to KSL TV by the University following a records request.  According to that letter, the officer violated a couple of new safety policies put in place after the high-profile murder.

These documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune reveal that officer Miguel Deras received a written warning March 29 for a domestic violence incident he responded to February 13th.  That’s several months after the University had already started to implement new safety policies.  After Lauren McCluskey was murdered on campus last October by an ex-boyfriend, the university started to implement 30 safety recommendations made by a review panel.

That three-member independent review panel found that numerous mistakes were made by the university and campus police.  But, the panel concluded it was impossible to say whether McCluskey’s death could have been prevented.

The university cannot comment on the specific case involving an employee, but talked with us about the disciplinary process for employees and the implementation of the safety recommendations.

“It has been priority number one at the University of Utah,” said Jeff Herring, University of Utah Chief Human Resource Officer, when asked about those campus safety recommendations.  “It’s always going to be a process. With campus safety it’s never anything that you’re done with. It’s something that’s on going, and important.”

University of Utah Police Officer Miguel Deras was given the written warning notice for breaking two of those policies, the only disciplinary action the University has taken so far in relation to the murder, or the new policies.  Deras was supposed to call for back-up, and run the suspect’s name in the Offender Management Database.  Deras was reprimanded in the letter for doing neither when he responded to a domestic violence call February 13th.

The letter from a lieutenant in the University Police Department states:  “At no time during this visit did you call for a back-up officer to assist, you conducted all interviews alone and in the presence of both involved persons.”

According to the letter, those policies protect the privacy of any potential victim of domestic violence, and shield the victim from the suspect.  The policies enable the officer to interview the potential victim away from the suspect.

According to the letter, the officer checked the criminal history of the suspect but did not run the suspect’s name in O Track, the Offender Management Database, as required.

“Going forward, you are expected to utilize sound judgment ensuring you have a back up officer in all criminal cases where are you are engaging with multiple persons, especially when a suspect is present,” the letter stated.

Lauren McCluskey’s mother, Jill McCluskey, has been critical of the university for not accepting some resposibility for her daughter’s death.

She responded to a request for comment on the disciplinary letter in an email:

“Officer Miguel Deras was Lauren’s main contact at the campus police.  According to the independent review, there were 18 calls between Lauren and Deras. On the day she was murdered, she called him three times to report to him that she received a text from someone impersonating a police officer with the intent to lure her out of her dorm.  He did nothing with that information.  He did not take Lauren’s pleas for help seriously.  Deras was never disciplined for failing Lauren.”

“The fact that Deras again did not follow procedures and training in a domestic violence case with another woman is extremely concerning.  It confirms that the University of Utah Police culture has not changed. Updated procedures and rules will not matter if the people who are supposed to follow them do not care. Women’s requests for help are not being taken seriously at the University of Utah.”

Officer Miguel Deras is also one of several named defendants in the $56 million lawsuit McCluskey’s parents have filed against the University of Utah.

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University of Utah Police Officer Disciplined After Lauren McCluskey Murder