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Parents of slain U of U track star slam campus police for “unforgiveable” response

SALT LAKE CITY – Jill and Matthew McCluskey have very strong words for campus police at the University of Utah.  They don’t agree with the claims that the murder of their daughter couldn’t be prevented.

The McCluskeys cited the independent review that stated, “Their report states that ‘there were several indications that Lauren McCluskey was in trouble. There were failings both systematically and individually…correcting the issues we have identified in this report might lessen the probability of such a tragedy occurring again.’”  They say they completely agree with this statement.

They believe there were serious gaps in communication, which led multiple calls for help falling through the cracks.  They also believe there wasn’t enough urgency on the part of University Police and Housing and Residential Education.

Lauren reportedly called the UUPD about text messages she believed to be a lie, trying to convince her to come out of her dorm so she could be exposed to an attack.  One text even tried to tell her that Melvin Rowland, her killer, was in an accident.  The person who took her call reportedly responded by saying that until there were threats, or anything of a criminal nature, there “isn’t much we can do.”

However, Lauren made additional calls, saying she was being harassed, and, according to the McCluskeys, “In fact, each of the several times that Lauren called the police, it was like the first time. The person that Lauren would speak to indicated no knowledge of who Lauren was, why she was calling, and apparently had no knowledge of any accumulating record of her issues, requests, or complaints.”

She was reportedly so desperate for help, she called the Salt Lake City Police Department.  However, the McCluskeys say Salt Lake officers referred her back to the UUPD.

The statement says, “This situation cries out for accountability beyond updating policies and training and addressing UUPD understaffing by hiring five new department personnel.”

University officials responded by forwarding the McCluskey’s response to the independent review board that suggested changes in how the UUPD handles cases like this.  They say they’ll implement all of the recommended policies.