On Oct. 22, a University of Utah student was shot to death on campus by her ex-boyfriend after a string of calls and reports to the campus police department concerning her safety.
This incident has raised concern over the effectiveness of campus police in colleges across the country and how they deal with issues such as assault and dating violence. Campus police departments are required to release annual security reports detailing campus crime statistics, as well as policies on offenses that happen on school grounds.
When examining their respective security reports, The University of Utah shows significantly more violent crime than Salt Lake Community College. In 2016, the U. reported 26 cases of stalking and 11 cases of domestic violence, compared one stalking case and two instances of domestic abuse at SLCC.
Dean of Students Ken Stonebrook, who also serves as the Title IX Coordinator for SLCC, oversees cases of sexual misconduct and helps with victim services. He says the statistical divide can be attributed to the different campus landscapes.
“If there’s a hundred reported assaults, very well, 80 or 90 of those may have happened within dorms,” explains Stonebrook. “We don’t have dorms.”
When looking into reports such as sexual assault, violence and stalking, SLCC’s security report states that investigations will “typically be completed in a reasonably prompt time frame” with 60 days being a standard time frame.
“60 days was the established guideline set by the Office of Civil Rights under the Obama administration,” says Stonebrook. “We’ve always tried to operate on that.”
SLCC’s security report shows fairly low records of sexual misconduct on campus.
“I would say a majority of things that happen on campus get reported,” Stonebrook states on the accuracy of these statistics, adding, “Oftentimes things will happen off campus, and that’s where we don’t get reports.”
On SLCC property, the school maintains a staff of Campus Security Officers, or CSOs. These officers patrol SLCC campuses and can be requested to escort students to their cars should they feel unsafe.
Although not sworn peacekeepers, SLCC’s security report says CSOs “greatly enhance the safety” of the SLCC campuses.
“We drill every 6 months, training our officers and security on how to handle and prevent violent situations,” says Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Jalaine Hawkes.
The CSOs work alongside UHP at SLCC to assure a constant presence at all hours.
“They’re there to make sure the buildings are secure, and assist with the public, like when they want walkouts,” according to James Peterson from UHP.
He says the difference between a police officer and a CSO is primarily training done through the state.
“The Highway Patrol that’s contracted with Salt Lake Community College are all sworn police officers,” says Peterson.
Contact the SLCC Department of Public Safety for more information about campus security, including parking lot safety escorts.