Judge Rules Against Decertifying BYU Police Department

Jan 5, 2021, 9:49 PM | Updated: 9:52 pm
Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News...
FILE PHOTO (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A judge has ruled that Brigham Young University’s police department will keep its certification.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Catten issued his ruling Tuesday, granting BYU police’s motion to dismiss the case. However, Catten also sided with the Utah Department of Public Safety on several specific legal issues.

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.

In a letter sent to the university, DPS Commissioner Jess L. Anderson informed BYU their police force would be decertified on Sept. 1, 2019, due to the lack of an internal investigation into the incident.

However, Catten said “that expectation is not supported” in current state law language, “which just requires an ‘investigation.'”

“Because BYUPD caused an investigation that meets the requirements of Utah Code § 53-6-211(6) and responded to the investigative subpoena, BYUPD has not violated its certification criteria and its certification is not subject to revocation by the commissioner on that ground.”

Anderson called Catten’s ruling “disappointing.”

“Decertification was the right course of action to protect the integrity of law enforcement. Non-compliance with POST investigations erodes all integrity,” Anderson said. “Despite a ruling against my administrative action, it can still result in an important change for the BYU community. The department’s errors of the past have been disclosed and appropriate parties have an opportunity to correct them. I now look forward to working with BYUPD to establish appropriate policy and expectations. We expect all law enforcement agencies, including private police organizations with law enforcement authority, like BYUPD, to hold themselves accountable and to abide by the same standards.”

Anderson also said they would take the next 30 days to consider appealing Catten’s decision. He added state lawmakers should work to clarify Utah’s law.

In his ruling, Catten sided with the DPS, saying, “A private college or university law enforcement agency is required to comply with the investigation and referral obligations set forth in Utah” state law.

But he added BYU “performed its duties” under current law and was “in compliance with the certification requirements” after requesting an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigations.

“Judge Catten’s decision emphasizes and brings to light the lack of statutory clarity and guidance for decertifying a private college or university police force,” Anderson said. “It would be appropriate for the Utah Legislature to revisit the relevant statutes and provide additional guidance about these processes.”

Catten also ruled both parties were “unfairly affected” by inadequacies in current state laws.

“The biggest single cause of the conflict between BYUPD and UDPS is the startling lack of guidance from the statutes and rules that govern the certification of BYUPD, the process by which any law enforcement agency is required to refer allegations to POST, and the lack of a clear process for objections to an administrative investigative subpoena or the non-criminal enforcement of such a subpoena,” Catten said. “The statutes and rules that are in place which govern BYUPD’s certification are piecemeal and it requires a substantial amount of statutory interpretation to determine how they work together.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

$400 million set aside for tax cut...
Madison Swenson

Brett Garner elected to fill vacant seat in Utah House of Representatives

Brett Garner has been elected to fill Sen. Karen Kwan's former seat in the Utah House of Representatives.
1 day ago
Mike Anderson

Bear Lake Monster Winterfest seeks to draw winter tourists

The community around Bear Lake is pushing to get more people out there during these winter months. As a part of that, the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is underway.
1 day ago
Ayanna Likens

Tips to set realistic mental health goals

If you are planning on setting a goal to prioritize your mental health this year, Dr. Kristin Francis at Huntsman Mental Health Institute recommends starting with small goals.
1 day ago
Shara Park

All students contacted following shooting incident in Taylorsville High parking lot

Police said they have identified and made contact with the six teens involved in a shooting that took place in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School Thursday.
1 day ago
Officers respond to Taylorsville High School on Jan. 26, 2023, after shots were fired in the parkin...
Erin Cox

Utah lawmakers pushing for greater school safety measures

Utah lawmakers are pushing for change in order to protect our students in schools.
1 day ago
“Happy Bunny” math game...
Ashley Moser

Fun resources help early learners with math and reading

We all know reading with our children is important, but experts now say math scores are actually better predictors of reading literacy.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Judge Rules Against Decertifying BYU Police Department