SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah Police Department has come under heavy criticism for how they’ve handled the case of Lauren McCluskey, who was murdered on campus in 2018. One former officer is also accused of showing intimate photos of her to at least one co-worker.
University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch told state lawmakers on Monday that his department has made some changes already, and will make more in the future, to “re-establish” public trust.
One of those changes made is that digital evidence must now be uploaded into the department’s database and can’t be saved on officers’ phones or electronic devices.
“Photographs and digital evidence related to criminal cases may become discoverable and may be entered in an unaltered state by the end of a shift of an officer. If the photograph or other digital evidence is unable to be attached to the case file, the officer must immediately report it to the investigations unit for removal of the photograph from the device,” Lynch said.
Lynch said they have also hired a victim advocate, allowing for more ways for victims to report a crime without having to go directly to a law enforcement officer.
He would also like to start two oversight committees.
The first of the two committees would be a Public Safety Advisory Committee would be made up of students and university staff and would discuss policy, training requirements, diversity, and any new initiatives the police want to implement.
The second would be an Independent Review Committee would be led by a law professor and look into any uses of deadly force or allegations of misconduct.
Lynch would also like to get the department accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The same agency that both the Salt Lake and West Valley City Police use.
“It’s much along the same lines as an academic accreditation process, but it’s for public safety. We will take the next two to three years to get to the point where we’re ready for that assessment to be conducted and we will have those external assessors come in and review our police department,” Lynch said.
Rep. Lowry Snow (R-St. George) appreciated the changes.
“I think some really good things have been occurring, important things on our campuses since the tragic death of Lauren McCluskey, which is unfortunate. But we have to do a better job,” Snow said.
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