BYU police department faces decertification possibility

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The fate of Brigham Young University’s police department is now in the hands of a state judge, who will decide if the university can keep its police force, or if the decision to revoke police certification goes to a full trial.

In February 2019, the Utah Department of Public Safety Administration announced a decision to decertify the BYU department.

The Utah Department of Public Safety threatens to decertify the BYU police department on two allegations: 

The first is that the former BYU police chief did not properly investigate the alleged criminal misconduct. However, according to a university press release, the chief asked the state to conduct an investigation, and the state prohibited him from doing his own investigation.

The second allegation is that BYU failed to respond to a court order. But BYU claims they released all the requested public information. 

State investigators claim that a former BYU police officer, Aaron Rhoades, collected some 16,000 files on people and shared at least 21 of the private files with the BYU honor code office or Title IX office.

The decertification was to take effect September 1st, 2019. But BYU’s police department has been allowed to keep operating as it appeals that decision.

If the state decertifies BYU’s police department, the university will have to either hire the Provo police or have a private security patrol campus. 

Eric Walton, a sophomore at BYU, said he felt sorry for the BYU police: “They are experienced people and are really trying to do their best here, and they do do a good job from what I’ve experienced.”

Megan Green, an advertising student at BYU, said she would prefer security officers because they would have less access to private information and more regulations to follow. “There would be less room for errors to happen and for police officers to be doing things they’re not supposed to be doing.”

The state plans to issue a ruling in the next two weeks. If the judge denies BYU’s motion to drop the case, both sides will prepare for a full trial.

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