SALT LAKE CITY — An audit of Utah Higher Education Police Departments indicates changes still need to be made.
That audit was presented Wednesday at the Utah State Capitol before the Legislative Audit Subcommittee.
Jake Dinsdale, audit supervisor at the Office of the Legislative Auditor General, said several lawmakers had asked if there was a different way to approach policing at universities.
“Data shows that 98% of public institutions have their own on-campus law enforcement agency,” Dinsdale said.
The audit did not recommend that college policing responsibilities be delegated to city or county law enforcement agencies.
There were several key findings from the audit, including several data entry errors at nearly all eight public higher education institutions in Utah, with respect to the Clery Act.
The Clery Act requires public and private colleges and universities to disclose information relating to certain crimes committed on or near a campus.
Several issues have also been highlighted on the University of Utah campus. Audit findings show instances in which U of U entities failed to properly release security information to University Police.
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In particular, the audit shows instances where U of U housing failed to make required reports to university police.
“The effect on those is just the delay and, you know, the loss of the ability to respond more quickly,” Dinsdale said.
This all comes more than three years after Lauren McCluskey was fatally shot outside her dorm by a man she was dating. This incident took place after McCluskey repeatedly tried to report that she was being harassed.
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“When I came to do an independent investigation of the university’s response to Lauren McCluskey, it’s just a big step forward and support and resources are being put forward to really address these coordination issues,” Keith Squires said. , chief security officer at the University of Utah.
Squires spoke about his goal if there is a threat or risk to those on the U of U campus.
“That they can trust and pass this information on to our police department so it can be investigated immediately,” Squires said.
Overall, higher education officials across the state say they can continue to do a lot of work.
“Our institutions have done a lot so far, and there is still a lot to do and we will continue to work on this,” said David Woolstenhulme, commissioner of the Utah higher education system.
The audit made several recommendations, including asking the University of Utah to streamline its reporting to make it more efficient. They also ask higher education institutions to consider ways to improve policing operations with both independence and accountability from an outside entity.