Margaret Hynds, editor in chief of the Notre Dame Observer, noticed last November that HB 1019, a law former Indiana governor Mike Pence signed, classified private university police departments as public agencies.
An SPLC investigation reveals how Texas' private institutions are using a provision of the state's open records law to delay the release of police reports.
Private university police forces are not held accountable by the public through public records. Watch the SPLC's video on the dangers of "secret police."
For Sunshine Week 2016, the SPLC launched a new campaign to "stop secret police" by holding private universities' police departments accountable to public records laws.
The Student Press Law Center requested records from 30 private universities' police forces across the country. The vast majority were unwilling to part with the records, showing a hole in public access in higher education.
Some public access advocates are worried that the bill simply echoes the requirements set by the federal Clery Act instead of advancing transparency in private universities' police forces.
After the University of Chicago announced measures to make its police department more transparent, legislators opted to stall the bill that would have required private campus police departments to be more transparent.
In a 4-3 decision, the Court ruled the Otterbein University Police Department can be compelled to produce public records because it employs sworn, state-certified police officers, who have the same arresting authority as municipal police or a county sheriff.