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THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

SJC hears arguments on more access to Harvard police records

By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer | November 7, 2005

BOSTON --As special state police officers, Harvard University police have the power to make arrests and execute search warrants on campus.

The student-run Harvard Crimson newspaper says that means campus police should also be subject to the same disclosure rules as municipal police departments.

The state's highest court heard arguments Monday in the Crimson's lawsuit against Harvard, which seeks to force campus police to turn over detailed arrest records.

Harvard says it is not subject to the state's public records laws because it's a private university and its police department is not a public entity.

"A campus police officer in a community like Harvard is very different than a municipal or state police officer," Harvard attorney Jeffrey Swope told the Supreme Judicial Court.

Crimson attorney Frances Cohen said the paper currently has access to daily crime logs, which contain bare descriptions of police activity. But the newspaper believes it should have access to detailed police reports on arrests and other incidents, Cohen said.

When campus police do make an arrest, Swope countered, records related to the arrest become public through the court system.

Joe Wrinn, a spokesman for Harvard, said campus police also have to protect students' privacy.

"We want to be transparent as much as we can ... but when there are issues of, say, medical transport, we don't believe that the Crimson or any reporter -- assuming a crime has not been committed -- should be able to find out who that was, what their medical condition was or why they were transported to health services," Wrinn said.

The justices took the matter under advisement and did not indicate when they would issue a ruling.

The Crimson sued Harvard in 2003 after the newspaper was denied in its request for police records.

#-o :doze:


© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

 

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Chapter 90 Enforcer
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It doesn't matter. Schools will still bury stuff as always. Its disgusting how many schools cover stuff up. Most frequently assaults and rapes. God forbid the campus looks like there's a slight crime issue.
 

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Wow!

These "police" agencies should be careful how they tread. Just because they're private colleges etc. The bottom line and quick answer is that records regarding "arrests" and processed through the "courts" are Public Records. Where you can limit some access is under either CORI or HIPPA.
:sq:
 

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Chapter 90 Enforcer
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MPD61,

It's simple for the Private Colleges to tread. They bury EVERYTHING... They simply don't put an entry into the log and administration controls the reports. The courts only find out about it, if anything is really done about it. No court action, no public records. That's one thing I will NEVER miss about Campus Police work.
 

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"We want to be transparent as much as we can ... but when there are issues of, say, medical transport, we don't believe that the Crimson or any reporter -- assuming a crime has not been committed -- should be able to find out who that was, what their medical condition was or why they were transported to health services," Wrinn said.


Who said any thing about medical calls. The public has a right to know what type of criminal activity is happening on a Campus in thier neighborhood. And what the " Police "are dong about it.
 

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Sempergumby wrote:
The public has a right to know what type of criminal activity is happening on a Campus in thier neighborhood. And what the " Police "are dong about it.

The paper already has the police log, what more do you want, blood type of all involved.
 

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Macop said:
Sempergumby wrote:
The public has a right to know what type of criminal activity is happening on a Campus in thier neighborhood. And what the " Police "are dong about it.

The paper already has the police log, what more do you want, blood type of all involved.
I belive you miss understand the point of the posting. When you have an agency which carry's police power and the right of arrest in a secluded area or institution and no crime is reported or the reports are altered administratvly there is a huger problem. If a campus has " Police Departments " then it ( the institution ) must be accountable just like any other real Police department. If they dont want the public to know the dirty little secrets of a campus, then they should not have Police, they should have Security.
 

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MGL CH.41/s.98F

Found it! Look it over kids! It specifically mentions not just Municipal Cops, but college and university police under CH22C/s.63 in regards to police logs and public records

HA!
:eek:ha:
 

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Court hears oral arguments in Harvard open records case

© 2005 Student Press Law Center

November 9, 2005

MASSACHUSETTS - The question of whether private universities can keep campus police incident records private is now in the hands of the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Justices heard an appeal yesterday from The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard University, in its fight to gain greater access to university police department records.

The paper claims that because the university police force has been given official law enforcement authority by the state, it should be subject to the state open records law.

"The Crimson has never claimed that they want every piece of information," said Crimson lawyer Frances S. Cohen to the court, according to an article in the Crimson. The student newspaper wants materials "necessary and appropriately incidental to the power to make an arrest."

Harvard lawyer Jeffrey Swope told the court Harvard police officers are "very different" than other officers with similar powers such as special state police officers and deputy sheriffs, according to The Associated Press.

"A public record is only a public record if it is in the hands of a public entity," said Swope to Justice Robert J. Cordy, according to the Crimson article.

The justices "aggressively questioned" the Crimson's case, said James Herms, a partner at the Student-Alumni Committee on Institutional Policy, a Cambridge, Mass. based non-profit firm that consults schools on security policy.

Justices were more receptive to Harvard's case and sat back and let Harvard lawyers explain the school's side, Herms said.

Another campus safety expert who was in the courtroom suggested the court was leaning in favor of the university.

"My impression is that they are leaning towards a narrow application of the law," said Daniel Carter, senior vice president of Security on Campus, a non-profit organization advocating increased transparency in campus crime records.

Herms warned that a dismissal of the appeal, for which his organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief, could impact the legal system in the state.

The court would be practicing "judicial activism" if it allows Harvard police officers, also registered as deputy sheriffs in two counties, to maintain private police files, Herms said.

The Student Press Law Center also joined in a brief before the court.

Even if the court rules in favor of the university, Carter said, efforts are underway in the state legislature to pass a bill forcing campus police to release all records under public records law.

A decision is expected before April, according to the Crimson article.

 

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We are told that if anyone comes and requests a copy of the daily incident log, we must give it to them, no questions asked. In addition all incidents on campus are posted with the date, nature of the incident, location of the incident and disposition of the case in a glass case outside the diapatch window. Reports however are a different story. Anyone that would like a copy of a report must ask the Chief directly, and he will decide whether or not to distribute it. On a separate note I saw someone post earlier about reports being altered or changed to make them seem less serious, this in fact does go on occasionally, that is why I tell all officers to do their reports on a word document first, save and password protect it, and then cut and paste to the incident report database, and also keep an original for themselves. This way if the report is ever questioned you have the original that YOU wrote not that some else "fixed". Just the usual college "nothing bad happens here" BS.:monkeyea:
 

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THE HARVARD CRIMSON, INC. vs. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE & others

I thought this case was very interesting on several points. The Court spells out what is considered public records but it also gets into dissecting the powers of the campus officers by what statute they are appointed and what it means. I was especially surprised to learn the appointments don't make the department as a whole an agency of the Commonwealth.

Insightful reading......

http://www.socialaw.com/slip.htm?cid=15838&sid=120
 

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Interesting issue, but get this: Hospital "Police" don't even fall under C41s98F. In essence, they dont even have to release any records, logs etc at all since the statute says "colleges or universities" whose officers are appointed under 22C/63( even tho hospitals appoint under 22C/63). So you are a victim of a crime reported to a "police officer" at a hospital and they bury it...makes you wonder about these administrations...and the legislature who passes these laws? With the recent bill regarding C90/1, makes you wonder if these people even think these things out before they write them?? Maybe cops should be proposing legislation instead, then we could tell the perps "don't tell me the law...I wrote it!" lol
 
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