University of Utah chooses ex-public safety commissioner to head up campus security

The former head of the Utah Department of Public Safety has been chosen to become the University of Utah's new chief safety officer.

The Salt Lake City university announced Wednesday that Keith Squires' appointment to the position became effective Jan. 1. He had been serving as interim chief safety officer since April.

"We are pleased to have such a seasoned public safety executive lead our campus safety initiatives," University of Utah President Taylor Randall said in a prepared statement. "Keith Squires brings a wealth of experience to this important job — both from his many years as Utah's commissioner of public safety, as well as his time helping to build our newly reimagined University Safety Department."

Squires replaces Marlon Lynch, who became the U.'s first chief safety officer in 2019. The position was created following the on-campus murder of student Lauren McCluskey as part of a number of public safety reforms. The chief safety officer oversees the U.'s police department as well as campus security. Lynch left the school in March to become the vice president for public safety and chief of police at Michigan State University, his alma mater.

Lynch hired Squires in July 2020 as his executive officer.

"I'm honored to continue leading the University Safety Department," Squires said in a statement. "This work involves going beyond historical policing. With the changes we are implementing, university safety operations are becoming part of a holistic, transparent and strategic effort that allows us to work genuinely with our campus community in creating an environment where everyone can feel safe with a sense of belonging. I'm confident that our continued innovations will demonstrate effectiveness and help serve as a model for others."

In addition to being the former Department of Public Safety commissioner — which oversees the Utah Highway Patrol and State Bureau of Investigation — Squires' experience includes being a homeland security adviser to two Utah governors, and working as a local law enforcement adviser to U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

He retired from the Department of Public Safety with 31 years of law enforcement experience in 2018. Squires was also part of the three-member panel that conducted an investigation into whether the University of Utah Police Department could have done more to prevent McCluskey's death.

What really happened to Lauren McCluskey? The inside story of her tragic death