Community Services now offers canine-assisted support

The University of Utah Safety Department’s Community Services division acquired a facility dog, Dreamy, to provide trauma-informed care and supportive services to survivors of harm on campus. The dog was obtained in partnership with the national nonprofit Canine Companions® which is leading the service dog industry to provide service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings.

“In her day job, Dreamy will be working with people who have been harmed and experienced interpersonal violence and other crimes,” said Crisis Support Specialist Evelyn Cervantes. “Our clients deserve to feel love in their lives, and Dreamy is just one way for us to show them there are beings out there that love them just as they are.”

Dreamy is a Golden Retriever-Yellow Lab mix and is certified as a facility dog according to Assistance Dogs International standards. Facility dogs are handled only by facilitators (handlers) who have gone through a full-time, two-week training program that includes multiple written and practical tests. Social workers Evelyn Cervantes and Hilary White completed the training through Canine Companions. Dreamy lives on campus with Cervantes, who is the primary handler.

Dreamy is trained to complete over 40 commands, including providing deep pressure by lying down on top of a person indicated by the handler; loading into a vehicle; picking up items with her mouth, and placing her front legs across a person’s lap.

Trauma-informed care provides support services in a way that is accessible and appropriate to those who may have experienced trauma to avoid the possibility of triggering or exacerbating trauma symptoms and re-traumatizing individuals. The approach focuses on offering compassionate staff, specialized services and encouraging a more welcoming environment. Facility dogs are one way to support this methodology.

Facility Dog or Therapy Dog: What’s the Difference?

In their handbook, the nonprofit organization Canine Companions explains that facility dogs undergo a two-year, extensive and specialized training program and learn over 40 commands. They are specially bred for this line of work, and the tasks they are trained to perform are used to help motivate and often rehabilitate clients within the facility where they are working. On the other hand, therapy dogs can be any pet dog that has permission to enter a public facility to provide comfort or joy to patients or clients.

Age: two years and a half

Likes: long walks, playing fetch, and cuddling

Dislikes: being told not to sniff things

University of Utah peace officer body-worn camera rule finalized

Interim rule R1-011A, which provides guidelines for the body-worn cameras used by University of Utah peace officers was approved by the Academic Senate Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, and is now adopted as a permanent rule.

The rule goes into effect after months of discussions with a variety of entities on campus, including the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC); the Surveillance System Administrator Committee (SSAC); the University of Utah Staff CouncilEquity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) center directors; the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU); and the Academic Senate Executive Committee, which is comprised of 12 faculty members and three student members.

Some of the key differences between the interim rule and Final Rule R1-011A are outlined below:

  • The final rule establishes that body-worn cameras are only worn and used by University of Utah sworn peace officers.
  • The final rule provides that body-worn cameras may not be used to gather intelligence information based on activities involving first amendment protected speech.
  • The final rule establishes that an officer shall ensure the officer’s body-worn camera is recording at all times when the officer is engaged in a law enforcement-related encounter or activity and is not recording when the officer is not involved in a law enforcement-related encounter or activity.
  • The final rule requires an officer who is wearing a body-worn camera to give notice, when reasonable under the circumstances, to the occupants of a private residence or a health care provider present at a hospital.
  • The final rule requires an officer to deactivate a body-worn camera in a classroom environment while class is in session except in certain circumstances.
  • The final rule allows an officer to mute the audio while continuing to record video if consulting with other officers or supervisors while engaging in a law enforcement-related encounter or activity.
  • The final rule amends when an officer is required to deactivate the officer’s body-worn camera while conducting a lethality assessment by
    • Adding a victim of domestic violence to the list of types of victims to whom the provision applies.
    • Requiring that the officer deactivate the camera if the victim believes that deactivating the camera will encourage accurate information sharing.
  • The final rule adds a requirement that the chief safety officer reviews the rule at least annually in coordination with the Public Safety Advisory Committee, the Surveillance System Administrator Committee and other campus community partners.

More information about body-worn cameras, their use at the University of Utah, and the original interim rule can be found here.