The Daily Utah Chronicle sat down with University of Utah’s Director of Public Safety, Chief of Police Dale Brophy to discuss the new Victim-Survivor Advocate and campus safety in general at the U.
The new Victim-Survivor Advocate for the U’s Department of Public Safety, Jaimie Justice, will start her position on Monday, April 8.
Brophy said, “We didn’t have [a Victim-Survivor Advocate] internally to the police department,” prior to Justice being hired.
While the U’s Center for Student Wellness has several excellent Victim-Survivor Advocates already, they are limited to working 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Because of this, the Center for Student Wellness Victim-Survivor Advocates normally get referrals after University Police Department has already dealt with an individual, meaning sometimes it can take two or three days after getting the referral for the advocates to reach out and speak to the victim.
Hiring a Victim-Survivor Advocate “was one of the recommendations that came out of the Lauren McCluskey case,” Brophy said. “The Independent Review Board said that they thought it would be a good idea based on some other college agencies around the country having specialized units to deal with interpersonal violence. We didn’t have that unit at our campus, and so in conjunction with the victim advocate, we are also hiring a detective that will specialize in interpersonal violence, and those two folks will work together to make sure that those cases get the attention that they deserve.”
Additionally, Brophy previously served as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant and lieutenant with West Valley City Police Department where they had six full-time Victim-Survivor Advocates that “came out on scene, and that were a direct resource to the victims on the scene at the time that they were reporting.” Brophy believes that this helped “make the process a little bit more seamless,” because victims “have someone who they can talk to from point one and who can follow them through the process.”
Brophy also said, “As police, we deal with the issue, we take the report and we do do follow-ups, but it’s not daily conversation. Once we’ve presented our case to the prosecutor’s office, we normally don’t follow that victim through the court procedure.”
The Victim-Survivor Advocate role will be to serve as “a guide to resources and system navigation,” Brophy said. “We have a ton of resources on campus, and then there are a lot more in the community as well, and that’s overwhelming for people. So our Victim-Survivor Advocate is going to be a specialist in those resources and a specialist in how to navigate the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA/Title IX), how to navigate the Office of the Dean of Students, how to navigate the Center for Student Wellness, how to navigate the core process and how to get people where they need to go. And so that’s their main role.”
UPD: “The Most Accessible Form of Government”
“We work really well with our campus partners to try to provide the best possible service we can,” Brophy said. The U’s Department of Public Safety has “a lot of stakeholders on campus” including the OEO, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Center for Student Wellness. The new Victim-Survivor Advocate “will be the liaison with those different groups as well,” Brophy said.
The U’s Department of Public Safety also hosts numerous events on campus. “We interact daily with our community. We have a community outreach program that did almost 200 presentations across campus,” Brophy said. This includes hosting quarterly RAD (Rape, Aggression and Defense) training for women and “Coffee With Cops.”
The next “Coffee With Cops” event will be on Tuesday, April 9 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Marriott Library Plaza. “We have coffee and doughnuts, and it’s an opportunity for us to interact with all of the students that are out there and anyone else that might be coming around,” Brophy said. “We usually have the Sexual Assault Nurses (SAN) that are out there handing out information, the Domestic Violence Coalition. We have several groups that join us to do those types of things.”
All of the officers in the Department of Public Safety are trauma-informed. Brophy said, “Basically what that means is that officers don’t go into these types of investigations with preconceived notions, you get into the investigation, and then you weigh all of the evidence, and you don’t let any of your implicit biases come into play.”
Officers also honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), which is during the month of April, with special patches and ribbons that go on their cop cars.
“We always tell people the same thing. We’re the most accessible form of government,” Brophy said. “You can call the police department for anything, and we’ll generally come. Doesn’t matter what it is. There’s no problem too small.” He also said, “If it’s not our problem to help you solve because it’s not a violation of the law, we know all of the resources on campus, and we can probably get you where you need to go.”
“I’d say you should never be afraid to call the police, we’re just people doing a job, and our job is to treat everybody on campus with professionalism and to find people who are violating the law and holding them accountable for that. If you need help, please come to us. We can direct you where you need to go.”
Campus Safety: “We’re All in This Together”
“The Lauren McCluskey case obviously was tragic, and we don’t want to see that happen again. We want people to speak up if they know something that could be harmful to somebody on our campus, or to our campus in general. We want to know about it, and we’re here to help,” Brophy said. “I’m quite impressed with the students on our campus.”
To keep up the good work, one of the best things that students can do to help address the issue of sexual assault on campus is to attend a Bystander Intervention Training or join a club on campus, such as It’s On Us, Brophy said.
“I have 37 officers that work at the Department of Public Safety, and at any given time we only have three or four on campus. We’re not everywhere watching and seeing everything,” Brophy said. “Without the people in community — which is 36,000 students — reporting what they are seeing and intervening when something is not going right, this makes our job that much harder because we can’t be everywhere at once.”
“I’ll say we’re all in this together,” Brophy said. “Campus safety is not just the role of the police department, although that’s our overall goal. We can’t do it without the eyes and ears of everyone else on campus. When in doubt, follow the rules and policies and be skeptical. If everybody takes a little piece of responsibility for safety on campus, it will be a whole lot better.”