Department of Public Safety to decertify BYU Police

BYU Police vehicles are parked west of the JKB, where BYU Police headquarters is located. (Sadie Blood)

The Utah Commissioner of Public Safety announced plans to decertify BYU’s University Police department.

University Police has said it will appeal the Department of Public Safety derecognition decision. In a statement released by BYU, the university said it disagrees with the state’s decision.

In a Feb. 20 letter to BYU President Kevin J Worthen, Commissioner Jess L. Anderson said BYU failed to comply with the certification criteria with state demands and will decertify the police department on Sept. 1.

BYU responded by saying it “believes that University Police met all applicable criteria and is surprised that the commissioner is issuing a letter on these technical grounds.”

The university said it will not release any further information about the appeal beyond the statement issued this morning.

In 2016, The Salt Lake Tribune filed a lawsuit against BYU that argued its police department must comply with Utah’s open-records laws. BYU claimed its position as a private institution exempts the Police Department from the Government Records Access and Management Act.

Third District Judge Laura S. Scott ruled on July 13, 2018, that “when BYUPD is acting as a law enforcement agency and/or its officers are acting as law enforcement officers, it is a governmental entity subject to GRAMA.” BYU appealed the ruling to the Utah Supreme Court.

SB197 declares whether an institution is public or private it must disclose police documents, clarifying that BYU police department should be considered as a governmental entity.

“BYU police officers go through all the training to work in law enforcement including post-training,” Salt Lake Tribune Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Napier-Pearce told The Daily Universe. “Our argument before the Utah Supreme Court is that the BYU law enforcement should be open to open record laws and transparency.”

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