Vehicle burglary prevention tips on campus

During the last month, eight vehicle burglaries were reported on campus. These cases are typically crimes of opportunity, and the University of Utah Police advise drivers and bicyclists to be aware of some behaviors that can help prevent burglary.

Detectives Sioape Lautaha and Ryan Karren from the U Police investigation unit explained that the U is a target for these types of crimes because of the high concentration of vehicles and the different services available on campus.

“We have a lot of visitors on campus during all hours,” detective Karren said. “Some hot spots for burglaries are the National History Museum of Utah, Red Butte Garden, the trailhead at Red Butte Canyon, the parking lot of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Village Apartments.”

Among the recent vehicle burglaries were two reported on Sept. 6, near Red Butte Canyon and the Natural History Museum. In one of these, a victim's purse containing her wedding rings were stolen. After the investigation, Det. Karren and his team identified and apprehended the suspects and recovered the wedding rings and other stolen property from a local pawn shop.

U Police detectives say that any vehicle, regardless of make or model, can be targeted if the driver leaves belonging inside that are visible to passersby.

“Anything can trigger the thief—a backpack, a purse, cash, electronic chargers, sunglasses, a camera or a laptop,” Det. Lautaha explained. “In many cases, these people are looking for something to sell in order to get money quickly.”

The U is certified as a Gold Bicycle Friendly University, and many students, faculty and staff use their bikes daily. Therefore, U Police also advise bicyclists to be cautious, parking in well-lit locations, and following the prevention tips listed below:

Safety tips for campus drivers and hikers

  • Keep your ID and credit cards in your pocket or with you in a wallet or purse
  • If you need to leave belongings in the car, put them in the trunk before leaving your vehicle
  • Lock the doors and make sure that the vehicle and the windows are closed
  • Do not leave money or any visible item in your vehicle
  • Record the serial numbers for laptops, cameras and other devices as this can aid in recovering stolen property


Safety tips for bicyclists

  • Use a U-lock to secure your bike
  • Do not use inexpensive locks, they can easily be cut
  • Register your bike with U Police (1735 S Campus Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84112)
  • Keep pictures of your bicycle and document your bicycle serial number


If your vehicle is burglarized

  1. Call U Police dispatch to report the crime: 801-585-2677
  2. Try to remember what is missing: cancel all your credit cards
  3. Avoid touching anything until a responding officer can look at the vehicle to see if there is a possibility to collect evidence


The Office of the Chief Safety Officer welcomes two presidential interns

Two students from the University of Utah's prestigious Presidential Internship in Higher Education Leadership joined the Office of the Chief Safety Officer for fall semester 2020.

Founded 28 years ago as an ambassador program, the internship provides undergraduate students from diverse fields with an opportunity to understand higher education administration and gain experience in the field.

Selected for their leadership skills, backgrounds and disciplines, the presidential interns work on strategic projects designed to help advance the U's goals, while learning and collaborating with university administrative offices. The program aims to provide each cohort with an inside look at the administrative structure of higher education. At the same time, interns participate in weekly professional development seminars hosted by executive leaders from the campus and larger community.

"It is an opportunity to be involved during your student career and after,” said Presidential Intern lead Merry Joseph. “This program teaches us about higher education, our community and our country. We are learning how to make a difference."

Presidential interns Sabah Sial and Alvin Tsang are working in the Office of the Chief Safety Officer. Sial works in conjunction with the Director of Administration, Annalisa Purser, designing a SafeU student ambassadors program. Tsang works with the Director of Campus Security, Aerin Washington, focusing on policy development as part of the accreditation process.

"Campus safety is essential for education,” Sial said, a junior student pursuing an Honors finance degree. "I started a safety-related student organization with my roommate last year to increase dialogue with students, but we hadn't learned the scope of university safety and about all the different parts involved in safety. I am learning a lot."

Tsang, a senior pursuing an Honors degree in quantitative analysis of markets and organizations (QAMO), believes this internship will help him re-connect others.

"In today’s climate, we are seeing people protesting police officers and bringing forward a variety of issues and complaints,” he said. “Being here helps me understand what the university is actually doing for students to be and feel safer. This work is important, and I want to be a bridge to my peers to let them know about the work that is happening here."

"Public safety serves to ensure that everyone on campus feels they are in a safe space. There are many different departments that work on that, and I’m learning about their operations and details that not many people get to see." - Sabah Sial

"We are meeting people and learning about things that we are not typically exposed to as students. I am meeting people that are super professional, but at the same time they are regular people—fun to know and fun to interact with." - Alvin Tsang

New public safety committees announced

By Annalisa Purser, Director of Administration, Office of the Chief Safety Officer


Two new public safety committees were created this month by University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch and appointed by U President Ruth Watkins. The Public Safety Advisory Committee and the Independent Review Committee are comprised of students, faculty, and staff from across the institution and are designed to ensure a broad representation of constituents are included in public safety decision-making.

“Incorporating the community into the growth, development and oversight of public safety functions is essential in creating an environment built on trust and mutual respect,” Lynch said. “These committees will bring various perspectives and voices to the table so that university safety evolves in a way that best meets the needs of our community.”

Both committees will be managed by Keith Squires, executive officer in the Office of the Chief Safety Officer, who joined the U in July 2020.


Keith Squires, executive officer in the Office of the Chief Safety Officer

As executive officer, Squires supports the Chief Safety Officer by managing these university safety committees, overseeing professional responsibility efforts throughout the department and serving as the liaison to city, state, tribal and federal public safety entities. Squires served over five years as the Commissioner of Public Safety for the State of Utah and retired in September 2018 after 31 years of service as a law enforcement officer. Shortly after, Squires was on the team that conducted the independent review after the tragic murder of U student Lauren McCluskey.

“I am impressed with the commitment from the administration to improve public safety at the University of Utah,” Squires said. “I’m honored to be part of these efforts and to continue the work of implementing the positive changes based on our initial recommendations.”

Squires served 11 years as the appointed homeland security advisor for Govs. Jon Huntsman and Gary Herbert and served the state in many other capacities, including as director of the State Bureau of Investigation, assistant superintendent to the Utah Highway Patrol and director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. He served seven years as a law enforcement and public safety advisor for U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He holds a master’s degree in homeland defense and security from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a bachelor’s degree in administration of criminal justice. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and FBI National Executive Institute.

Public Safety Advisory Committee

The Public Safety Advisory Committee is charged with assisting the chief safety officer with the development of the strategic direction of the department in order to enhance the safety and overall quality of life for the U community. The committee will offer advice and constructive criticism to the CSO and will assist in educating the U community about programs, services and initiatives offered by the department.

The committee will meet with the CSO and members of the leadership team monthly. The department will be prepared to present to the committee, for its review and consideration, trends and potential future issues, best practices, proposals for new programs, etc.

The committee will be responsible for reviewing current policies and procedures and making recommendations for their improvement. Specifically, the committee will:

  • Survey and report to the constituencies they represent, as appropriate, to advise the department on methods, tactics, programs and approaches to best ensure community safety
  • Consider various initiatives designed to improve community safety, taking into consideration cost-benefit analyses, weighing privacy concerns, image and liability issues, etc.
  • Make recommendations that address potentially contentious and/or forward-looking issues and considerations
  • Become knowledgeable in selected public safety topics with the ability to inform/educate other members of the U community
  • Provide information that assists in the effective development of communication strategies designed to reach members of the greater U community
  • Create greater awareness among key stakeholders about the ways in which the department works to protect the safety of the university, specifically people, property and reputation

The committee is composed of students and employees and includes representatives from the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), the Academic Senate, Staff Council, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Athletics, University Hospitals and Clinics, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of General Counsel, Housing & Residential Education, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and others appointed based on areas of expertise. The inaugural co-chairs are ASUU Vice President of Student Relations Michelle Valdes and Presidential Intern Alvin Tsang.

An annual report will be published every spring that will be provided to the President’s cabinet and available at The co-chairs will present a summary to the Academic Senate, ASUU and Staff Council.

To see the inaugural committee membership, click here.

Independent Review Committee

The Independent Review Committee exists to help ensure confidence in the U’s public safety functions by reviewing complaints made against public safety personnel, evaluating the actions of public safety personnel, and when necessary, making recommendations regarding policies and procedures. It will review complaints made by the public that are directly or indirectly related to issues of excessive force, violation of rights, abusive language or dereliction of duty. The committee is independent from the department and is not intended to replace the existing formal internal review and disciplinary procedures.

Complaints about public safety personnel may be reported to the department, the Independent Review Committee chair, the Office of the Chief Safety Officer, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, or the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and inclusion. These are referred to the executive officer for investigation.

Upon completing an investigation, the executive officer will make a determination about the complaint. Outcomes will fall into one of the following classifications:

  • Unfounded: The allegations are not factually accurate; the alleged conduct did not occur.
  • Exonerated: The alleged conduct did occur but was justified under the circumstances.
  • Sustained: The alleged conduct did occur and was not justified under the circumstances.
  • Not sustained: The written record of the investigation does not support a determination of whether the alleged conduct occurred. This classification is used whenever a case involves conflicting stories that are not clearly resolvable on the basis of evidence presented to the committee.
  • Administratively closed: No investigation was completed due to the fact that the complainant did not cooperate with the investigation (except in an instance of alleged serious or criminal violation).

In reviewing the executive officer’s determinations, the Independent Review Committee may:

  • Agree with the disposition of the complaint.
  • Identify an issue not raised in the original complaint that is raised in the report record and ask that the executive officer investigate the issue; the identified issue will be labeled “supplemental.”
  • Disagree with disposition of an allegation within a complaint and suggest an alternate disposition.
  • Suggest that the department consider different or additional sanctions for the university personnel involved in an incident.
  • If warranted, suggest that the department review its procedures and consider amending them to address a particular issue or concern.
  • Request information about an officer’s prior record. As part of its review, the committee may ask for a summary of past disciplinary action against an officer, as well as a summary of past commendations an officer has received.
  • Request to see department procedures related to recurring problems relevant to the complaint under review.

The committee is comprised of faculty members, students, and staff members. The inaugural chair is law professor Amos Guiora.

An annual report of all incidents, as well as any recommended changes to policies or procedures, will be produced annually for the CSO and will be made available to the campus community at

To see the inaugural committee membership, click here.

U Health Security trained more than 1,000 employees and students in workplace violence prevention techniques in the last year

During the last 12 months, more than 1,000 University of Utah Health employees and campus partners were trained by U Health Security in a variety of courses, including a “Workplace Violence Prevention” workshop.

This is one of the most popular courses and is designed to help medical staff from University Hospital and clinics navigate the stressful situations they commonly encounter while working in a healthcare setting.

The workshop covers the different types of workplace violence, prevention techniques, the importance of reporting and how to report situations, empowering attendees with resources to assess, control, resolve and report incidents.

“It is very important that medical staff receive instruction on how to identify warning signs of escalating crisis behavior, what resources are available for support, de-escalation techniques, and personal safety,” said Chris Snyder, manager of specialized services for U Health Security and senior Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). “Our priority is to have and maintain a safe environment for our staff, patients and visitors, and education is essential to that.”

Since February of 2019, the training has been provided to medical personnel and staff, including in-patient nurses, nutrition services staff, outpatient clinic workers, pharmacists, admissions personnel, operating room managers, charge nurses, patient care leadership, nursing students, those in the Human Resources department, and the Office of the Dean of Students for the Medical School.

Due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions, the training has been moved to an online format for the rest of 2020. The courses are offered by request. To schedule a training for U of U Health staff, please contact Snyder at

“Maybe I was meant to be there”

University of Utah Health Security Officer Cristina Lopez was having an uneventful shift when an emergency was reported. The call was to assist a woman giving birth in the hospital parking garage.

It was past midnight when Officer Lopez arrived to see a woman and her husband with a baby in the middle of the third-floor visitor parking terrace.

“I asked if they were okay, but they did not understand because they did not speak English,” Lopez said. “Luckily, I am fluent in Spanish so I could communicate with them. I asked, ‘necesita ayuda?’ (Do you need help?) Then, I quickly held the baby because the father told me he was about to fade.”

Officer Lopez helped the new parents, holding the baby while the umbilical cord was still attached. There, in the middle of the terrace, with the medical help and Lopez translating, she directed the father to cut the cord. Lopez also provided an unused emergency plastic gown she happened to have in her pocket to help the medical staff collect the placenta so they could transfer the baby and mother to the hospital.

At just 19 years old, this experience confirmed to Lopez that this is the type of community service she wants to pursue.

“As security officers, we are trained to deal with patients yelling at us or being violent but not with delivering babies,” she said. “I was a firefighter during high school, and that training helped me learn how to handle high-pressure situations. I definitely want to continue working in public safety so I can have a positive impact on people. I want to do something big that will make a difference like fighting against child trafficking or terrorism, and I plan to be on a SWAT team one day or make it on a fire crew.”

Lopez came to Utah from Colorado when her brother moved here to finish high school and study welding at Weber Basin Job Corps Center. She attended the same institution, choosing office administration. After graduation, she joined U Health Security.

Officer Lopez will celebrate her first anniversary at the U in October. Some people may think she is courageous for what she did. For Lopez, she was doing her job in the right place at the right time.

“Maybe I was meant to be there,” she said.