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University Of Utah Adds Threat Assessment Team

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The University of Utah is creating a dedicated team to move quickly alongside police to assess threats or safety concerns on campus as part of recommendations made by the presidential task force a year after the murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey.

Officials at the U called the past year transformative in terms of safety — not just in protocols, but in the culture.

As students make their way to and from classes this fall semester, they have more on their minds than just studying.

“I feel less safe than when I started here a couple years ago,” said student Delaney Mosier.

Following the murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey last October, university officials said they’re taking steps to improve.

“We can’t put fences up around campus and keep all the threats away from us, but what we can do is make sure we’re raising awareness,” said Chris Nelson, spokesperson for the University of Utah.

On October 1, school officials kicked off “safety month” by saying they had implemented nearly all 30 changes recommended by the independent task force following McCluskey’s death.

Part of their plan included the development of a threat assessment team — a direct response to recommendations made by the presidential task force.

“When we talk about safety, it’s everything from interpersonal to just the basics of getting back to your car,” Nelson said. “We are even going to address sidewalk safety.”

With more than 30,000 students and 30,000 employees, the campus is a juggernaut.

“It’s a really big campus,” he said. “We have a healthcare system, students, museums and an arboretum. The idea is to try and take this really amazing and vibrant campus come together like we’re dealing with it as one entity.”

He said making sure all parts of the university can communicate in crisis is key.

“I have definitely seen more publicity and attention to safety,” said student Hailey Sherman.

The creation of a chief security officer position has yet to be filled.

“I do think they are trying to make improvements,” Sherman said. “I know exactly how to get a police escort or who to contact if I need help.”

Officials hope to have that vacancy filled by the end of the year. They are also searching for a new Chief of Police following the resignation of Chief Brophy.

But Nelson said even as these changes take place, the work will never fully be complete.

“We will be talking about safety forever,” he said. “It’s something we take very seriously.”

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