The inaugural UC Merced Safety Conference is an effort to bring nationally recognized subject matter experts to the San Joaquin Valley to share critical safety information, best practices, and the latest innovations in enhancing community and campus safety with conference attendees. The overall goal is to amplify and grow the resources within area communities to prepare, recognize and respond to safety concerns.
Attendees can expect to learn about the changing nature of the challenges communities face, lessons from other tragedies across the nation and the importance of a collaborative multi-discipline team approach. The conference will take place Sept. 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the UC Merced Conference Center. The UC Merced Police Department said it is a prime opportunity to learn from subject matter experts on the cutting edge of developing best safety practices based on research and lived experiences.
"Seeing the growing concern about emotional and mental well-being as the nation and state emerge from COVID was a driving inspiration," said UC Merced Police Chief Chou Her.
Conference topics and speakers include:
Her said professionals in mental health, crisis work, education or anyone charged with caring for and serving the community could benefit from attending the conference.
"This is such a great opportunity to get national level training and information in the heart of the Valley on a University of California campus," said Her. "Conference attendees will leave more informed and better situated to respond in their professional careers."
The conference keynote speaker is Jill McCluskey, Ph.D., founder of the Lauren McCluskey Foundation. In 2018, Jill's 21-year-old daughter, Lauren, was murdered on the University of Utah campus. Now, the Lauren McCluskey Foundation spreads awareness about dating violence and stalking — some of the most pressing issues facing universities and colleges today.
"We focus on the response, including the professionals' response and why it is so important to have coordinated campus response," McCluskey said. "I will talk about what went wrong in Lauren's case. Campus housing knew something was going wrong and had reports. The campus and police had reports, but nobody talked to each other."
Her called McCluskey a "force for change and a beacon to others to inspire needed changes." He said her perspective is invaluable because she took a tragedy and turned it into a mission to spread awareness and education about safety.
During the conference, attendees can learn more about Lauren McCluskey's story during a screening of ESPN's investigative documentary "Listen." The film explores the University of Utah student athlete's life, murder and her parents' quest for answers.
"We need to take an active role in recognizing threats, dangers and risk," said Her. "Lauren's story is powerful and shows that the safety of any child or person is the responsibility of an entire community."
To register for the UC Merced Safety Conference, click here.