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Salt Lake Tribune sues for BYU Police records of communication with honor code office

Salt Lake Tribune in court against BYU (File photo: KUTV)
Salt Lake Tribune in court against BYU (File photo: KUTV)
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(KUTV) The Salt Lake Tribune is expected in court Monday to ask a judge to force the Brigham Young University Police Department to release communication records between police and the university’s honor code office.

The Tribune requested e-mails between the BYU Police Department and the honor code office as part of their reporting on allegations that sex assault victims were being investigated by the university.

BYU Police denied the request saying the police department of the privately-owned university is exempt from complying with state public records laws, according to the Tribune.

Tribune lawyers, however, argued that because the BYU Police Department is given state authority, they should comply with state public records laws regardless of their affiliation with BYU.

"The BYUPD, like other law enforcement agencies in Utah, is a creation of the Utah Legislature and the Utah Department of Public Safety, established to carry out the public's business," Tribune attorney Michael O'Brien wrote in Court documents. "[W]ithout the enabling actions of the Utah Legislature and the State of Utah, the BYUPD could and would not exist."

Tribune lawyers argue that if BYU Police is exempt from releasing the communication records, they would be the only law enforcement agency in the state that does not have to comply with the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

The Tribune previously won an appeal to the Utah Record’s Committee when requesting access to data from Provo and Orem Police that showed any time a BYU employee accessed police records.

BYU Police also came under scrutiny in October after a public records request found the agency had accessed a police database thousands of times over the last year-and-a-half.

The Tribune’s case is expected to be heard in Third-district Court Monday.

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