NDSP is legally a ‘public police force’
Observer Staff Report | Friday, November 18, 2016
Just one day after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of Notre Dame in a case brought by ESPN, new information has emerged that could change the future implications of the ruling.
The University was sued by ESPN in January 2015, after Notre Dame refused to release incident reports related to student-athletes on two separate occasions.
The case hinged on NDSP’s status as either a private or public agency —under Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA), public police forces, such as the Indiana State Police Department and the South Bend Police Department, are obligated to release their respective records under APRA. If NDSP were considered a public agency, it would be required to release certain records.
On Wednesday, the court ruled NDSP is “not a public agency for the purposes of APRA [Access to Public Records Act]” — a ruling which affirmed a previous trial court decision.
Last winter, however, the Indiana General Assembly changed Access to Public Records Act definition of a “public agency” to include a private university police department. Since July 1, the public records law has applied to professional police departments at the state’s private universities, the South Bend Tribune reported Thursday.
This law would have no effect on the court case settled Wednesday afternoon, but could impact the way people request private police records.
“As customary, we’ll look to the Independent Colleges of Indiana for guidance on legislative matters affecting the state’s private colleges and universities,” University spokesperson Dennis Brown said Thursday night in an email.