5-Year Strategic Plan for University Safety Addresses Community Distrust


Jack Gambassi

The block U on campus on Feb. 2, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


On Feb. 19, the Office of the Chief Safety Officer released their “5-year Strategic Plan for University Safety” which outlines standards and strategic goals for U Safety as their department evolves.

“The strategic plan is really designed to provide a foundation for the department and to help guide the work of safety moving forward, to make sure that we as a department, and also as a campus community are on the same page with what our vision, mission and goals are,” said Annalisa Purser, the director of administration for U Safety.

Soon after the inaugural Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch was hired in Feb. 2020, U Safety began drafting this plan and shared it with the public safety advisory committee in Fall 2020.

Purser said that this plan will be reviewed and updated regularly throughout the next five years to ensure it best represents the goals of U Safety as the U changes. 

Although the recent departure of CSO Lynch and administrative leave of Chief Rodney Chatman has changed some things around in the department, Purser said this plan is meant to create a standard independent of personnel changes.

“The vision and uniting for a safe and empowered campus community is not going to change. Our strategic goals and the objectives and strategies are still in place,” Purser said. “That’s what’s so wonderful about having something like this, is that we know exactly what we’re working toward and where to head, and as people come and go, we’ll have new ideas.”

Community Outreach

One action item listed in the plan is to create an improved process for receiving feedback from the community.

“Within the plan, and I guess even above all, the vision statement of uniting for a safe and empowered campus community is hopefully presenting that vision of this being a partnership and something that we want to work together with the campus community,” Purser said.

One goal of the plan is to strengthen trust with the campus community, which has been a concern highlighted by groups such as UnsafeU after the murder of Lauren McCluskey.

Ean Bigelow, a senior studying Spanish and business and a former classmate of McCluskey’s, said he too was concerned about safety at the U after McCluskey’s murder — but that he has seen firsthand how U Safety is working with students to make a safer campus.

“Just from working in the Safety Office, seeing how seriously that they’ve taken to making these changes and moving forward, it gives me a lot of hope that we can move forward. We don’t have to forget, but we can move forward and I feel a lot less bitter towards the Safety Office,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow works with U Safety as a presidential intern focused on community outreach through bridging the gap between the safety office and students.

“The best way to have police in any community is if the community and the police know each other,” he said.

One method of outreach Bigelow is working on is “Coffee with a Cop” where students can virtually meet members of the safety team and learn about the office and its initiatives.

“The biggest thing is community,” Bigelow said. “Creating that safe community so that if students need to bring issues up, they’re not going to feel unsafe.”

Alvin Tsang, a senior studying quantitative analysis of markets and organizations is also a presidential intern who works on the public safety advisory committee. In Nov. 2020, the committee communicated with campus leaders and the public about how to best implement the strategic plan.

Both the public safety advisory committee and independent review committee were created to strengthen the trust between the campus community and U Safety. 

“I think from my experiences working as an intern and seeing these committees firsthand, the people on the team are really receptive to feedback and are looking to change and grow as a result from it,” Tsang said.

The Safe U Ambassador Program is another initiative from U Safety aimed at increasing community engagement. The program is a year-long paid leadership position starting this coming August.

“It’s so important to us, for students to be involved in the department to share their thoughts and feedback, and to help us shape it into the future,” Purser said. “Because, ultimately, that’s the vision to have a safe and empowered campus community and we have to do that as a partnership.”


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