State Of Utah To Decertify BYU Police Department
Feb 26, 2019, 9:43 AM | Updated: Feb 27, 2019, 8:22 am
PROVO, Utah — The Department of Public Safety has moved to decertify the BYU Police Department.
Brigham Young University will appeal the state’s decision, according to a statement from BYU. The department will remain active until Sept. 1 during the appeal.
DPS sent a letter notifying the university of the decision, stating that BYU failed to comply with certification criteria that included the department’s failure to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct.
“BYU finds this decision confounding and disagrees with the grounds for seeking decertification,” according to a response from the university. “The Department of Public Safety believes that University Police failed to meet criteria for an internal investigation and a response to a subpoena. BYU, however, believes that University Police met all applicable criteria and is surprised that the commissioner is issuing a letter on these technical grounds.”
A bill aimed at forcing the BYU Police Department to follow the same open records rules that all other law enforcement agencies are subject to or to risk decertification has been introduced in the Utah Legislature.
The issue between DPS and BYU Police goes back three years, following allegations that BYU officers used police databases, to find information that was given to the Honor Code Office.
The lack of an internal investigation, resulted in the letter from the Commissioner of Public Safety, informing BYU their police force will be decertified on September 1st.
BYU has previously argued in court that they do not have to comply with public records requests as a private university and the case is currently on appeal with the Utah Supreme Court.
The Utah Department of Public Safety released a statement in response to media requests:
“The decision to decertify Brigham Young University (BYU) Police Department is the culmination of three years of review by the Utah Department of Public Safety. After a great deal of effort and consideration, the decision to decertify BYU Police was the sole determination of Commissioner Jess L. Anderson.
It is important to our Department that all law enforcement agencies and officers in Utah are held to the highest standard. We expect transparency and accountability by all who serve the public. We will give proper respect to the decertification process while maintaining the public safety of the communities involved. “
Once the decertification is finalized, the department would not be recognized by the state as a law enforcement agency. It would essentially have the same power as a private security company and would not be allowed to make arrests.
The Provo Police Department is being cautious in their approach as the two political giants, BYU and DPS, work through what is now a very public dispute.
If the BYU Police Department is decertified, it will likely be up to Provo Police to respond to any criminal activities on the college campus.
Provo Sgt. Nisha King told KSL, “If we are called upon to provide police services on campus, we will respond in a professional manner.”
KSL.com’s Liesl Neilsen and KSL TV’s Sam Penrod contributed to this report.