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University of Utah Police apologize for including Lauren McCluskey’s name in awards ceremony

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 12:46:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a University of Utah student who was murdered on campus last October responded after the campus police department handed out awards for the handling of Lauren McCluskey's case.

University spokesman Chris Nelson and Lori McDonald, who was the Dean of Students at the time of McCluskey's death but has since been promoted to Vice President of Student Affairs, were given awards, as well as a dispatcher involved in the case.

In the program, it listed several examples of their exceptional work, including their handling of the McCluskey homicide case.

“University [of Utah] President Ruth Watkins says there was nothing that could've been done to prevent Lauren's death. I just had a sick stomach for days after that,” said Jill McCluskey during a national news interview in January.

Five months after that interview and eight months after their daughter was murdered, Jill and Matt McCluskey refer to this awards ceremony as “bordering on obscene.”

Matt McCluskey told FOX 13, "It's remarkable that (to our knowledge) no one has been reprimanded, yet several people are getting awards. It shows, once again, that there is no accountability."

“I do not believe that it serves the ultimate mission of enhancing campus safety to fire anyone who acted in good faith,” Watkins said during a press conference in February.

On Thursday, U of U Police sent out a statement via a pair of tweets:

"On June 5, the UofU Dept. of Public Safety held a short awards ceremony. The intent of the ceremony was to recognize more than 30 individuals and groups for their years of service, individual efforts on complex cases, and campus partners for their continued support and dedication to DPS involving many events that have occurred over the past few years. We deeply regret and apologize for any pain that the inclusion of Lauren’s name on the program may have caused to the McCluskey family."

In turn, Matt McCluskey said, "We don't have a response to the 'apology' tweet, other than to reiterate the main point: No one has been reprimanded, yet several people are getting awards."

A University spokesman said it's very common for groups on campus to give out excellence awards at the end of the year; however, this is the first time the campus police department has had an awards ceremony since 2013.

Editor's note: “In an earlier version of the story, Fox 13 incorrectly reported which dispatcher received an award from the University of Utah Police. We regret the error. "