University of Utah Police received care kits from Kindness 4 Kids

Patrol officers from University of Utah Police received a surprise from "Kindness 4 Kids," a group of children volunteers in Salt Lake City who work with their families to provide support and supplies for people in the community.

On Sunday, Aug. 16, officers enjoyed a meet-and-greet with the local children who brought them care packages, complete with gum, candy and bottled water.

"Their kindness was really touching," said Police Sgt. Jason Miller. "One little 8-year-old girl looked at me and asked if I was going to cry! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time."

According to the Kindness 4 Kids Facebook group, founded by Mickey Hall, the members have visited multiple agencies around the valley to show support for law enforcement personnel and provide the kids with a positive interaction with officers.

"We express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to meet with some great officers," Kindness 4 Kids member, Brandon Isom said in an email to University Police Officer Chad Snyder, who helped coordinate the meeting. "The children helped prepare and distribute these law enforcement survival kits, and it showed them that they can make a difference in their community and put a smile on the faces of those who help them."

The group of children met with University of Utah police officers in the University Hospital parking lot, where officers showed the kids their cars and lights, radios and gave them stickers.

"The hospitality that your officers showed to the kids had them all beaming from ear to ear," said Isom in the email. "All they talked about the entire ride back home was how nice the police officers were and how much fun they had."

University of Utah Police participated in an implicit bias training with the community

All University of Utah police officers and command staff participated in an implicit bias training presented by Fair and Impartial Policing, a company that develops programs based on scientific research and operational tools designed for state, local, and federal agencies in North America.

The training occurred from Monday, Aug. 17, through Thursday, Aug. 20, and included four sessions: One for law enforcement command staff, two for police officers, and one for community members in conjunction with public safety representatives. Themes such as stereotypes, sexism, racism and social injustices were discussed.

“This training is designed to bring attention to implicit biases and to provide officers with tools to help them recognize and address their bases,” explained Scott Cunningham, course instructor with 37 years of experience in the policing profession, who holds a Ph.D. in Adult Education and Organizational Management, and focused his research on policies, ethics, and accreditation. “These sessions focus on helping officers and the community understand that we all have biases, why they exist and what we can do to control our responses.”

Part of the eight-hour training explored the negative consequences of allowing implicit biases to impact one’s actions.

“It is not uncommon for us to hear from officers after conducting this training to let us know that they’ve started to ask themselves, ‘why would I treat this person this way?,’” Cunningham said. “And, they tell us that the situation turned out better because they took the time to acknowledge, question and address their implicit biases.”

To keep the group small to minimize the spread of coronavirus, certain community members were invited to participate in an evening session on Aug. 18. During the four-hour session, students and staff had an opportunity to learn along with police and have a dialogue about the materials presented.

Javier Prado, an international student at the U who attended the community session, believes that opportunities like this help to build a better and stronger system.

“This implicit bias training gave me great exposure to people in positions of responsibility at the U,” he said. “There was room for expressing some very valid concerns about the effectiveness of policing on our campus, and I applaud Chief Rodney Chatman for declaring that this is only the first step in a long path toward a more holistic system of public safety -- one that addresses the root causes of distress and instability among students.”

Police Chief Rodney Chatman appreciated members of the community for taking the time to participate.

“This training is just the beginning of building the foundation of our interaction with the community,” he said. “We invited community members because we want to have conversations that builds relationships and allow us to work together. I believe that you cannot police a community if you aren’t a part of it.”

 

University of Utah Police recognized for COVID-19 response

University of Utah Health administrators recognized University Police officers in July for their daily support inside the hospitals and clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Richard Orlandi, M.D., University of Utah Health’s Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Health, presented an appreciation plaque to the law enforcement agencies that helped U of U Health with the initial COVID-19 response.

“COVID-19 has put a strain on all of us,” Orlandi said. “Health care workers and law enforcement together remain on the front lines to keep us all safe. I was proud to represent our team in recognizing our law enforcement partners for their dedication day in and day out. Their continued presence at U of U Health is recognized and appreciated daily.”

Hospital leaders presented a personalized plaque to several law enforcement agencies that work with U of U Health on a regular basis, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, Davis County Sheriff Office, Farmington Police Department, South Jordan Police Department, Orem Police Department, Park City Police Department, and University Police, which is the primary agency responsible for serving the hospital.

University safety efforts focus on continuously serving the community by working diligently to enhance safety and security on campus and beyond. University Police Chief Rodney Chatman says he is committed to fostering strong partnerships on campus and appreciated the gesture.

“The beginning of the pandemic was a scary time for our officers who needed to come home to their families after interacting with patients,” Chatman said. “Nonetheless, they remained committed, and through collaboration with our U of U Health partners, we were able to do the job, and do so as safely as possible. We will continue serving our students, faculty, staff, and visitors in any situation.”

Statement from Chief Rodney Chatman on independent review

Campus community,

In May 2020, I ordered an independent review of allegations against a former University of Utah police officer accused of inappropriately sharing and discussing photos being used to extort Lauren McCluskey. That review, conducted by the Utah Department of Public Safety, is now complete and is available online for the campus community to review.

I am grateful to Commissioner Jess L. Anderson of the Utah Department of Public Safety and his team for their thorough, comprehensive and independent investigation that included interviews with 20 current police officers and employees, and 17 former employees.

In summary, investigators found no evidence that a former University of Utah officer inappropriately downloaded extortion photos that had been emailed to him by the victim or that he had electronically transferred those photos to anyone other than the detective assigned to the case.

However, the report did find evidence that a small number of officers inappropriately commented on the photos before, during or immediately after a shift change briefing. As I wrote in May, it is inexcusable for any law enforcement officer to discuss photos or information provided by a victim outside of clear and legitimate law enforcement reasons. I am deeply disturbed by this finding and disappointed in the officers who were present and who did not report this incident through appropriate university channels.

This type of behavior is not acceptable in my department and will not be tolerated.

While employment actions are confidential, it is important that the university community understands we are pursuing action against individual officers based on the findings in this report. As our new mission statement makes clear: We seek public trust by policing with compassion, integrity and accountability in our daily pursuit of excellence. We nurture public trust by holding ourselves to the highest standards.

These are not just words. They are values that I expect every officer and staff member in my department to live up to every day.

Since coming to Utah earlier this year, I have been impressed with the sincere commitment shown by many in my department to change our culture and regain the trust of the campus community we serve. But, we cannot ignore our past and this report is a stark reminder of why our work moving forward is so important.

We will continue to strive to be better, to hold each other accountable and to serve our community with the utmost integrity. I look forward to continued conversations with students, faculty and staff as we work to build a law enforcement agency reflective of the remarkable organization and people it serves.

Read the executive summary here.

Read the full investigation report and addendums here.