House Bill 1022 moves forward
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, March 15, 2016
A bill to change state law surrounding the extent to which private university police departments are required to make their records available to the public is headed to the governor’s office, according to the Indiana General Assembly’s website.
House Bill 1022, sponsored by State Rep. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend), would require private colleges and universities to release information about incidents that result in arrests or incarcerations to the public.
The House first approved the bill by a unanimous vote in January. After an amendment was added, the bill passed in Senate by a 49-to-1 vote on March 1. Two days later, the House voted 93-0 to affirm the bill.
The bill will now go to the desk of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. If he signs the bill, it will become a law.
The amendment changed the bill to give individuals employed by educational institutions as police officers the same statutory immunities granted to a state police officer. It also gives private educational institutions the same statutory immunity granted to the state.
Bauer said in a previous interview with The Observer the purpose of the bill is to require university police departments to be more transparent with their public records.
Critics of the bill say it does not require enough transparency from private universities because only a small portion of campus incidents result in arrests.
If passed, the bill would apply to Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP), the University’s private police force.
In January 2015, ESPN filed a lawsuit against the University after NDSP refused to grant an ESPN reporter access to campus police records related to student-athletes. The case, ruled in Notre Dame’s favor by the St. Joseph Superior Court, was appealed by ESPN. Attorneys from both parties presented their oral arguments in the Indiana Court of Appeals and expect a ruling to be issued soon.
Bauer, a Notre Dame alumnus, said the bill is not a direct result of the ESPN lawsuit. Rather, he said the bill stems from concerns raised by Indiana citizens, including many Notre Dame graduates.