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Former Top Utah Law Enforcement Official To Lead University Of Utah Police And Safety Reviews

Photo from press conference.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER
From left, University Communication Director Christopher Nelson, University President Ruth V. Watkins and Keith D. Squires and John T. Nielsen, two former public safety commissioners who are working on the independent reviews.

University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins has tapped two former law enforcement officials to work on independent reviews into campus safety and police protocols following the killing of a student last month.

The first review will examine the university police’s investigation into Melvin Rowland, the man who allegedly shot and killed 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey on October 22.

McCluskey broke off her short relationship with Rowland prior to the shooting and had reported to police his strange behavior that followed, university police Chief Dale Brophy said last week.  He also welcomed the review.

“I appreciate that Chief Brophy and his officers are as committed as we are to learning anything we can to improve our response and make our campus police services a model for the nation,” Watkins said.  

The deadline for that review is Dec. 17.

The second review will examine safety on campus and make recommendations on any additional security measures that are needed.

That review is expected to be finished next spring.

Former Utah Department of Public Safety commissioner John T. Nielsen will lead the team.

Nielsen is joined by Keith D. Squires, another former Utah public safety commissioner, who stepped down last summer. Sue Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators is a third member of the review.

The review team has set up two websites where the public can submit recommendations and input on campus safety and the McCluskey case, Nielsen said during a press conference on Monday morning.

While Nielson’s team is working on the reviews, Watkins said various departments, including the Housing and Residential Education program, will provide students and staff with additional training and resources on emergency situations.

McCluskey lived on campus and occasionally invited Rowland to her dorm, Brophy said. He had been waiting for her as she returned to her residence hall from class the night of October 22, according to police. Rowland dragged her to a car where he shot her multiple times and then fled. He was found dead in a nearby church early the next morning after a brief manhunt.

The housing department may need to review its policies on guests and examine whether students are allowing strangers into their dorms, Watkins said.

The university will also continue adding more lighting and security cameras throughout campus.

Rocio is coming to KUER after spending most of her life under the blistering Las Vegas sun and later Phoenix. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. She did brief stints at The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Public Radio. She enjoys wandering through life with her husband and their toy poodle.
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