Report suspicious activity to campus police

Report suspicious activity to campus police

[Thursday, March 5, 2021 ]

This week campus police received a report about suspicious activity occurring on campus in which individuals invited a student to attend a Bible study group in the Union in the middle of the night. Shortly after receiving the initial report, campus police received several additional reports of similar activity. These reports indicate that over the past month, female students have been approached by individuals about joining a Bible study group, believed to be part of the “God the Mother” group.

This group has been named in an online hoax about human trafficking, but these reports have been unsubstantiated. Similar behavior has occurred on college campuses across the nation for several years and has not been connected to any criminal activity. Campus police are continuing to gather information and coordinate with external law enforcement entities but have no evidence that these incidents are connected to human trafficking or any other illegal activity.

While this behavior is legal and protected on campus, it has been alarming and concerning to students. Police are actively attempting to locate and identify these individuals to learn more about their intentions and discuss their approaches. In most reported instances, there have been two individuals involved, with at least one being a woman. Incidents have occurred in and around the Union, Gardner Commons, and the Campus Store.

Anyone who has information about this or who witnesses suspicious behavior or feels concern for their safety should contact police immediately at 801-585-2677.

Updates will be posted at http://alert.utah.edu.

2020 Campus safety statistics now available

The University of Utah’s 2021 Annual Security & Fire Safety Reports are now available with data from 2020. The reports, one for Utah and one for the Utah Asia Campus, include statistics about criminal offenses, hate crimes, arrests and referrals for disciplinary action, and Violence Against Women Act offenses. The reports also provide information about safety and security-related services offered by the University of Utah.

The most recent Utah report shows a decrease in Violence Against Women Act offenses compared to the statistics from 2019. Additionally, fondling cases, aggravated assaults, motor vehicle theft, and drug and alcohol arrest cases also decreased. This is likely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which reduced the population on campus during the last 12 months.

Authorities noted that rape cases peaked between 2018 and 2019—from 12 to 20 cases, presumably due to more information and resources available to assist victims with reporting. During 2020, cases remained steady, with 21 total cases.

The University of Utah offers resources to support victims of sexual assault, including social workers from the University Safety Department’s Community Services division, who are available 24/7. The Center for Student Wellness also provides confidential victim-survivor advocates to support those who have experienced interpersonal violence.

Robbery, weapons arrests and property crimes increased slightly. Weapons arrests occur when someone has a weapon when they are not authorized to possess one under state law (for example, if someone is carrying a knife when they have been convicted of a violent felony). Information about what to do it if a weapon is seen on campus is available here.

It is important to note that these data reflect all incidents occurring within the University of Utah, including incidents at the hospital and clinics, and do not always involve students. Additionally, the data include reports coming to police, as well as other campus offices, such as Housing and Residential Education, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Title IX, and more.

This report is created annually in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, commonly referred to as the Clery Act. The act seeks to standardize campus crime reporting so students, staff, faculty and visitors can learn about institutions’ crime histories. The report also fulfills the State of Utah requirement for a Campus Safety Plan. The University Safety Department is moving to a new record management system that will allow the department to provide more robust and more frequent safety data to the campus community.

The U report covers the main campus in Salt Lake City; the Sandy Center; the Graduate Center in St. George; the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa in Grand County, Utah; the Range Creek Field Station in Emery County, Utah; and the Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Center in Mon tana. The U Asia Campus report covers the campus in Incheon, South Korea.

The reports are available online. If you would like a printed copy, visit the University of Utah Public Safety Building, 1735 E. South Campus Drive, or the Office of the Dean of Students at the Utah Asia Campus. Questions regarding the reports can be directed to the Office of the Chief Safety Officer at safeu@utah.edu.

Safety improvements on campus


The University of Utah remains committed to improving campus safety and recognizes that safety looks and feels different to everyone. Some recent efforts to increase campus safety include:

  • University Police began using body-worn cameras in August 2021 to promote accountability; increase public trust; provide supportive documentation for complaints, investigations, and prosecutions; and improve training opportunities.
  • The University Police Department became the first law enforcement agency in Utah to join the 30x30 initiative in July 2021 to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030.
  • New digital signs throughout campus offer a place to broadcast emergency messaging and other safety information.
  • In fall 2021, the University Safety Department launched the new SafeU Student Ambassador program, a year-long paid leadership cohort program focused on improving campus safety, gaining leadership experience, and giving students an opportunity to interact with staff and officials at the U.
  • The University Center for Student Wellness hosted various events in 2020-2021, encompassing topics like healthy relationships, queer survivors support, suicide prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities.
  • The Gender-Based Violence Consortium at the University of Utah held a daylong symposium in April 2021 called “Visualizing Change, Resisting Violence,” and featured experts from across the country. The consortium aimed to increase public recognition of and deepen public knowledge about this type of violence.
  • The University Counseling Center began providing more services to students without charging session fees thanks to a new Student Mental Health Fee and other creative solutions.
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion developed the Anti-Racism Committee to advise regarding issues and events of racism across all intersections of identity and bias. The committee recommend and evaluate measures to ensure that every student, faculty, and staff enjoy an environment free of racism and hate.
  • The University of Utah launched the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention at bridging the gap between research and practice by bringing together researchers, prevention educators and students. The center works to better understand and analyze perpetration and peer culture as it relates to relationship and sexual violence.
  • The University Safety Department established the Public Safety Advisory Committee to assist 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 is chaired by two students and includes student, faculty, and staff representatives from across the campus.
  • The University Safety Department developed the Independent Review Committee 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 making recommendations regarding policies and procedures. The IRC is chaired by a law professor and includes student, faculty, and staff representatives.
  • To support the University of Utah’s commitment to safety, diversity, and inclusion, the University Safety Department created a new Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer position to coordinate community engagement initiatives with organizations across campus, as well as implement new response protocols developed by the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team. This position works closely with the divisions of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to comprehensively evaluate and improve safety efforts.
  • The new Public Safety Building is scheduled to open in early 2022. The facility will house the university's public safety functions in an environment designed specifically to support these functions. This building is part of the University of Utah’s efforts to achieve accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

University of Utah Police patrol campus on electric assisted bicycles

As part of the University of Utah’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality, the U’s Sustainability Office donated three electric assisted bikes (e-bikes) and bicycle equipment to University Police.

“The U is one of only 30 colleges ranked as a Gold Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists, so it is important to keep finding new ways to contribute to that commitment,” said Ginger Cannon, the U’s active transportation manager. “We cannot achieve carbon neutrality unless we reduce harmful emissions by driving less and transforming our university fleet to include more electric and cleaner-fuel vehicles. Our campus police had a need, and e-bikes provide multiple benefits for campus operations. It’s a win-win for campus safety and our local air quality.”

In 2020, transportation emissions accounted for just over 25% of the university's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Sustainability Office. The university has adopted multiple plans, programs and policies to help expand sustainable transportation choices and reduce harmful vehicle emissions, but there is still much more work to do in the face of global climate change.

Police agencies across the country utilize electric bikes in daily operations. Some of the benefits linked to e-bikes are better response times and less fatigue upon arrival to calls, faster back-up in dense and high-traffic areas, and improved access to pedestrian zones and narrow passages.

“We are grateful to the partnership with the Sustainability Office to engage our officers in this crucial plan to reduce our carbon footprint on campus,” said Shawn Bryce, associate director of University Police. “The use of these e-bikes will benefit our environment as well as our officers’ health and operations.”

Using e-bikes, officers will be able to expand their patrol area and cover more ground in less time. The U Police bicycle patrol unit offers a proactive community policing presence on campus as officers can access remote locations like the Bonneville Shoreline trail. Research shows bike patrol officers are more approachable to pedestrians and other cyclists. During big events, such as football games, this unit can also cover crowded areas quickly.

The e-bikes received by University Police were manufactured in Utah by Magnum Bikes, and the Campus Store offers similar models at a discount for employees and students.

What is an e-bike?

While there is no single, agreed-upon definition for what constitutes an e-bike, they are generally accepted to be any standard, pedal-powered two- or three-wheel vehicle that has an electric motor which can be used to assist the rider’s pedaling efforts. In Utah, e-bikes are classified under state law, and have all the same rules and regulations as regular bicycles under traffic law.

Since 2019, many departments at the U have incorporated electric bikes in their operations, including the University Hospital, Research Park Real Estate Administration and U Facilities.

Do not miss the University of Utah 4th Annual U Bike Week

Ride your bike to campus all week for prizes, fun events, and to learn about safe cycling at the U. On Wednesday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Campus Bike Shop (across from the Utah Fine Art Museum), the first 50 students to come will receive a free U-lock when registering their bike with University Police. You must bring your bike and University ID Card!

University Safety Department

To better reflect the holistic approach to safety at the University of Utah, the Department of Public Safety has changed its name to the University Safety Department. The name change also acknowledges an updated and expanded organizational structure, designed to better meet the needs of the U community.

In 2019, the University of Utah created a new Chief Safety Officer (CSO) position at the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety. The role was designed to provide oversight and coordination of all campus safety initiatives, as well as supervise the former Department of Public Safety.

Almost immediately after joining the U, inaugural Chief Safety Officer Marlon C. Lynch restructured the department by adding new leadership throughout the organization and elevating and growing existing operational divisions to increase capacity, improve accountability and better meet the needs of the U community.

He also created a new centralized administrative office responsible for compliance, accreditation management, financial planning, strategic planning, marketing and communications, professional responsibility, committee coordination, IT strategy, and community engagement in coordination with the divisions of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Previously, public safety services reported through the chief of police, who was also the head of the Department of Public Safety. Under the new structure, there are six operational divisions that all report directly to the CSO. These divisions include University Police, Campus Security, U Health Security, Community Services, Emergency Communications, and Emergency Management.

As part of the expanded mission of the University Safety Department, it will also coordinate closely with other areas of campus that have direct responsibility for aspects of safety, including many units within Student Affairs, Facilities Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Global Engagement and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

In addition to these changes, two new public safety committees were established in 2020. 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.

The department is also seeking accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which requires that agencies meet an established set of professional standards and best practices. As part of this effort, the department will move into a new building in 2022. It will include a community gathering space, private areas to support victims, workspaces for student interns and state-of-the-art technology to support the future of public safety.

“This is a transformational time,” said Interim CSO Keith Squires. “I am honored to continue leading this vision and creating a culture of safety for everyone at the U.”

Campus alerts and safety messages on new digital signs

This fall, 11 new digital signs were installed around campus. This new platform will display a wide array of information, but an important feature is enhancing safety messaging on campus.

“The major purpose of these signs is to have another tool for safety messaging available on campus,” said Brett Eden, director of Auxiliary Business Development. “This new technology can deliver urgent safety alerts as well as messages related to safety events with the press of a button, which is crucial when we talk about safety awareness.”

Seven pedestrian signs are located around campus to deliver relevant information to the U community. Another four giant vehicular signs were placed in high-traffic areas and at campus gateways. These signs are designed to provide visitors with directions to parking lots and campus buildings. They can also display emergency messages and information to campus visitors who may not get email and text alerts the way other members of the campus community do.

“Our students, faculty and staff receive campus alerts via text messages, their emails accounts, and through social media, but these signs are another tool to help us to get the message to members of our community and visitors who are actively walking and commuting on campus,” said Stuart Moffatt, interim director of University Safety’s Emergency Management division.

The University of Utah uses three levels of alerts that are color-coded according to the level of importance. Red Emergency Alerts are reserved for critical emergencies requiring immediate action—including natural disasters and other situations posing a direct and immediate threat to personal safety. Orange Safety Warning Alerts are issued when there is a significant issue that could affect safety, such as a widespread power outage, severe weather or for certain crimes that present an ongoing threat to the community. Yellow General Safety Information notices are sent to notify the campus community about non-urgent safety matters, such as emergency roadwork, business continuity interruptions or inclement weather.

The new campus digital sign network is connected to a central management system that allows for a quick takeover of every screen, including tv monitors inside buildings. When an alert is sent, screens will display the appropriate safety messaging coordinated through Emergency Management.

For more information about the U’s campus alerts, visit alert.utah.edu. More information regarding the new digital signs here.

University Safety provides 24/7 courtesy escorts

At the University of Utah, service-oriented security teams patrol the campus and hospital 24/7, assisting students, employees, patients and visitors with a variety of services.

There are two security teams at the U – one that focuses on the academic campus environment and one that serves the U’s hospitals and clinics. These teams of unarmed, non-sworn personnel work in partnership with University Police and focus on providing safety support to the community.

These two University Safety divisions make up the largest part of the department, Campus Security with more than 40 employees, and U Health Security with over 100 security officers and support staff located throughout the health system.

In 2020, Campus Security provided 1,236 courtesy escorts and helped more than 600 motorists who had a dead battery, a flat tire, were locked out of their vehicle, or another similar situation. The U health Security team trained more than 1,000 University of Utah Health employees, students and campus partners in a variety of courses, including a “Workplace Violence Prevention” workshop.

“The U Health Security team is a unique division that provides specialized services and training to our medical staff,” said Glenn Smith, director of U Health Security. “Our goal is to keep a safe environment where staff can provide the best service to patients.”

One of the most popular services offered by Security on campus is the 24/7 courtesy escort, in which campus community members receive a free ride anywhere on campus. A security officer will drive to the caller’s location and take them anywhere on campus. They aim to arrive in approximately 15 minutes, but response times vary depending on what other incidents the team is responding to at the time.

To request a ride, call: 801-585-2677

 

Commuter Services at the U also offers a free ride service called SafeRide. This ride share program allows campus community members to request a ride from one point on campus to another through an app. Student drivers provide this service during evening hours and it supplements the service provided by Security.

“We are excited to welcome so many people back to campus this fall,” said Sean Ryan, Campus Security sergeant. “We take seriously our responsibility to help create a safe place and provide resources so our community can focus on the real reasons they are here.”

Join the team

Both U Health Security and Campus Security are looking to fill officer positions. Students can apply and no prior experience is necessary as all training is provided. Security work offers a helpful experience for those looking to pursue careers in several areas, including criminology, public safety and social services.