Record number of stalking cases reported at University of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah saw a record number of reported stalking cases in 2021 which was also the highest number for all universities in the state.
The University reported 73 stalking cases in 2021, an increase from 2020’s 28 cases. Victim advocates and police said the record number of reported cases is a step in the right direction.
“I’m thinking positive on this, we want people to report, and feel comfortable coming to the police to report,” Jason Hinojosa, the universities interim police cheif said.
The state’s universities saw an increase in reported cases
Utah State University had 17 stalking cases in 2021 up from six the year before.
Utah Tech University reported 14 cases in 2021 compared to just one case in 2020.
Weber State University had two reported in 2021. Not one was reported the year prior.
Both Hinojosa and Alexandra Allen, victim advocate at Utah Crime Advocate Legal Clinic believe the number increased because the culture surrounding reporting stalkers has changed.
“The culture is saying, we believe victims, therefore more people are coming forward, and feel the safety in coming forward,” Allen said.
“We want you to come report. We want to help you. No one should feel unsafe on campus,” Hinojosa said. “I’m proud that I am able to be a part of the change to shift the culture in a new direction.”
Allen said the state’s definition of stalking is about protecting victims.
It says that stalking is engaging in-direct or directly with a person that would cause a person to fear for their safety, the safety of others, or suffer emotional distress.
Allen said the University has enforced that definition.
“All of their staff, the police officers, advocates, know that definition, and are able to help victims able to identify what is happening when they come forward and say something isn’t right,” Allen added.
Hinojosa said he hopes anyone experiencing stalking knows that campus police support them.
“Ultimately they are in the driver’s seat, there’s no pressure to come and report, and if they wanted to back out that’s no problem. However if there’s any way we can help, we are here to help,” Hinojosa said.
There are resources to help if you are being stalked. You can report it to your local police and there is a 24-hour stalking help line you can call or text at 1-855-4-VICTIM.
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