Bill subjecting BYUPD to GRAMA passes House, just needs sig from guv 01

Brigham Young University police department vehicle is pictured on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Provo.

Brigham Young University’s Police Department was scheduled to be decertified at the start of September, but that deadline will be put on hold as the department works through an appeals process.

Officials at the Utah Department of Public Safety decided to revoke the certification after the university department reportedly failed to conduct an internal investigation into alleged misconduct of one of their officers.

On Thursday, the DPS Public Affairs Office issued a statement advising the University Police Department can continue to operate as a fully functioning law enforcement agency until the end of court proceedings.

A hearing date has not yet been set for the appeal.

The BYU officer under investigation, former Lt. Aaron Rhoades, allegedly improperly shared private law enforcement database information with the BYU Dean of Students Office, the Title IX Office and the Honor Code Office.

He also reportedly accessed and shared private police reports from the Orem Police Department, Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the Provo Police Department, the state department reported.

The department stated the chief of police at the time did not realize the actions rose to the level of criminal misconduct.

BYU officials also explained an internal investigation did occur, but court orders meant that no one in the Police Department could disclose the existence of the investigation.

Since the University Police Department claimed exemption from GRAMA and government record laws, university officials claim the information Rhoades shared was reportedly publicly available and not designated as private or protected under GRAMA laws.

“BYU’s strong preference has been and continues to be to work collaboratively with DPS,” university officials wrote in the appeal. “However, BYU is prepared to defend itself in this proceeding and related proceedings, including conducting discovery, asserting relevant claims and defenses, and seeking available remedies for violations of BYU’s rights.”

Established in 1952, the University Police Department is a state-certified law enforcement agency privately funded, managed and operated by BYU. There are currently 30 full-time and 10 part-time certified law enforcement officers, according to a press release from the university.

Ashley Stilson covers crime, courts and breaking news for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2556 or astilson@heraldextra.com.

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