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Board of Regents approves new public safety building

The 25,000-square-foot building gives campus police and emergency managers better tools to help students and keep campus safe.

The Board of Regents of the Utah System of Higher Education has approved plans for a new public safety building at the University of Utah, to be completed in late 2021. The proposed one-story building on 500 South, east of Guardsman Way, will replace the existing public safety facility originally built in 1948.

“We look forward to utilizing the new public safety building as a key component to the evolution of the Department of Public Safety,” said Chief Safety Officer Marlon C. Lynch. “It will house several of our divisions, including campus police, security, community services and emergency management staff. Additionally, it will allow us to expand the police dispatch operation into a comprehensive communications center and provide a community space where we can host programming and be more accessible to the public.”

The best way forward

A rendering of the planned public safety building.

Currently, the U’s Department of Public Safety is housed in two buildings, both initially designed as military barracks.

In December of 2018, an independent review team identified a new or renovated facility as one of 30 recommendations to improve campus safety. A subsequent study determined that constructing a new building would be the fastest and most cost-effective route to an upgraded facility.

“It’s a commitment that shows the U is serious about creating and providing a credible public safety function,” Lynch said. “Just as laboratories support a research mission and residence halls meet demand for on-campus housing, the public safety building advances the work of  campus safety.”

PHOTO CREDIT: University of Utah

Conceptualization of the site of the public safety building.

Secure building, secure campus

The 25,000-square-foot building will be accompanied by a 2,200-square-foot ancillary/storage building and a secured parking area for public safety staff.

A community room will be used for community engagement. “I’m looking forward to the creation of a space for us to host members of our community for awareness and prevention programs, as well as engagement opportunities that will build and reinforce the relationship between the Department of Public Safety and those whom we serve,” Lynch said.

The building will house the university’s public safety functions in an environment designed specifically to support these functions. For example, the communications center will be state-of-the-art, an emergency operations center will be built to certifiable specifications and appropriately designed interview rooms and property and evidence rooms will be built to maintain the integrity of those processes.

As a designated “essential facility,” the building will be designed to codes, including seismic standards, that will ensure it remains functional during a natural or manmade disaster. It will be “the hub for crisis management,” Lynch said.

The estimated project cost is $13,578,629, which will be funded by the university. No state funds will be used for construction or design. Construction is scheduled to begin in December 2020 and end in October 2021.