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Student advocates call for U of U campus police to be abolished, point to mishandling of Lauren McCLuskey case

(Some of the signs held by students outside U of U DPS. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY– A group University of Utah students want to do away with the campus police department.  They held a small protest saying yesterday’s report about sexually explicit pictures of Lauren McCluskey proves the department has serious problems.

(Signs saying “We Don’t Trust U” posted at U of U DPS. Credit: Paul Nelson)

Students painted dozens of signs with the phrase “We Don’t Trust U” and posted them to the doors of the University of Utah Public Safety Building sparked by anger over how a U of U Police officer reportedly handled pictures that were being used to extort McCluskey. 

U students question the thoroughness of investigation 

Rebecca Hardenbrook with the group Unsafe U said McCluskey’s case was handled badly by campus police from the very beginning.

“They weren’t really looking into all of the things they needed to.  It wasn’t a thorough investigation,” said Hardenbrook. 

Hardenbrook doesn’t believe a statement from Police Chief Rodney Chatman, calling the comments made by officers as “unprofessional,” goes far enough. 

Their group wants to abolish the campus police department and for the school to be placed under a different jurisdiction.

“We’re advocating it would be Salt Lake PD, but that the university would make a sort of deal with them that they would be essentially non-existent on our campus unless there was the worst sort of situation,” she said.

Chief Chatman greeted the students as he left the department building.  He said even though the group has harsh words for him and his staff, he’s encouraged that they’re at least speaking with him. Chatman said the worst thing would be no communication, at all.

“I think the worst thing that could happen is if students feel this way and they don’t feel as though they could talk to us,” he said.

Chatman acknowledges the handling of the McCluskey case has done a lot of damage to the department’s image and he’s working to rebuild the trust between the police and the student body.

“Once we start having those conversations, I firmly believe that a lot of that sentiment will dissipate when they see we’re really here for their safety and security,” said Chatman.