By Stephanie Reyes, Staff Writer
Starting today, Baylor and other private universities all over Texas will be required to release police records to the public.
The Texas Legislature passed Texas Senate Bill 308, sponsored by Houston Democrat Sen. John Whitmire. The bill joins the ranks of the Freedom of Information Act, which provides the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency.
Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications, said Baylor has been working to get the procedures in place since the bill has been passed.
“On September 1, the law will change to allow requests for information relating solely to law enforcement activities of a campus police department at a private university,” Fogleman said.
Police records will include what is called the front page, which includes a case summary with a number of specifics on it.
Fogleman said before this date, other than information already publicly available, police departments at private universities were not subject to information requests or public information requests.
“After the bill was signed into law, we’ve been working actively to develop our procedures and our process to comply with the law,” Fogleman said.
Once procedures have been set for police records, it will include filling out a request in writing at the police department in the Speight Plaza to start the process of obtaining the records.
Before September 1, Baylor Police Department published Baylor’s law enforcement activity for years on their department of public safety website, which can be found under the website’s heading, “Clery Act.” The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities who receive federal funding to share information about crime and campus safety as well as inform the public of crime in or around campus.
“The Baylor police department publishes its daily crime log as well as its annual campus security and fire report as mandated by law,” Fogleman said.
According to the Texas Public Information Act the requester may review the information promptly, and if it cannot be produced within 10 working days the public information officer will notify the requester in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.
The bill came into existence after two off-campus incidents occurred at Rice University and University of the Incarnate Word. Rice was in the national spotlight after an incident involving police officers and Ivan Waller was caught on video. In addition, an audio and video recording of the shooting death of Cameron Redus was also captured at the University of the Incarnate Word.