BYU announces new security department, will remain separate from BYU Police


Leer en español: BYU anuncia nuevo departamento de seguridad que será separado de la polícia

Sadie Blood
BYU Police vehicles are parked west of the JKB, where BYU Police headquarters is located. BYU announced Thursday the formation of the new BYU Security Department, which will function separately from BYU Police. (Sadie Blood)

BYU is creating a security department that will operate separately from BYU Police, the school announced October 1.

According to a school press release, the BYU Security Department will oversee on-campus security for buildings such as the Museum of Art and Harold B. Lee Library, as well as campus properties such as the Motion Picture Studio and West Campus. The department will operate alongside BYU Police and will also be responsible for campus parking.

The release noted that BYU Police will patrol campus and “continue to be subject to GRAMA and other state and federal laws applicable to law-enforcement agencies.” Although the release did not specify whether the new security department would be subject to the same open records laws, BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins told The Daily Universe it would not be.

“The security department does not have law enforcement authority and is therefore not subject to GRAMA,” Jenkins said in an email.

The announcement comes after years of legal battles over whether BYU Police officers improperly shared police evidence with the Honor Code Office while investigating alleged criminal misconduct by students. In response to such reports, state legislators passed a law requiring private campus police organizations to follow the same public records rules adhered to by all other public police agencies, as of May 2019.

The announcement also comes while the Utah Department of Public Safety is still in the process of attempting to decertify the BYU Police Department entirely.

The initial decertification effort began in Feb. 2019, when the Utah Commissioner of Public Safety sent BYU President Kevin J Worthen a letter stating BYU failed to conduct an investigation into misconduct allegations and failed to comply with a subpoena for internal records. The effort stalled, however, after BYU responded with a statement saying it planned to appeal the state’s decision.

Jenkins told The Daily Universe in May 2019 that there would be an administrative hearing in the fall of 2019 concerning the decertification. A hearing date was never set, and nearly two years since the initial decertification effort such a hearing has yet to take place.

Chris Autry, who was appointed BYU Police Chief in Jan. 2019, will now serve as Managing Director of BYU Police and BYU Security. The school plans on hiring a new BYU Police Chief soon, who, along with the BYU Security management team, will report to Autry. Autry will in turn report to BYU’s Administration Vice President and CFO Steve Hafen.

Ten full-time BYU employees will oversee more than 300 student employees in the new security department. These employees will have specialized safety training but will not have authority to make arrests like sworn law enforcement officers.

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