Police chief working to change campus U of U’s culture

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – While allegations against a former University of Utah police officer have surfaced, ABC4 News takes a look at a previous conversation with the school’s new police chief and the vows he made to improve campus safety.

“We want to be better each day than the day prior. And that’s what we’re gonna do,” said U of U Police Chief Rodney Chatman.

RELATED: Timeline of Lauren McCluskey’s murder and events following her death

Aware of challenges the U. has faced in recent years about campus safety, Chatman said in an ABC4 News interview in February, he plans to bring about change.

“They can accept what this narrative has been, or they can be part of the change and I’m gonna meet them where they are as we mentioned and give them every opportunity, they can interact with us. Our police department doors are open,” Chatman said.

A spokesman for the school said many of the changes made at the university to date have involved policies, personnel, processes and physical improvements.

The changes made are due to three on-campus student deaths in a three-year timeframe – one of which was highly publicized – after student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, and her parents said university police didn’t do enough.

RELATED: What changes has University of Utah made since Lauren McCluskey’s death?

As student’s raised their voice for change, officials have taken action to improve campus safety, former police chief Dale Brophy retired, and then officer Miguel Deris – who was involved in McCluskey’s case – left the department.  

“We will build advocates one day at a time, and any past hurt or present hurts, we will be mitigating that one student at a time, one faculty member at a time and one staff member at a time,” Chatman said.

While Chatman cannot change past actions of the department, he said his police force will create an environment of accountability, transparency and safety.

ABC4 News reached out to Chatman who was not available to talk.  

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