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Gaston Gazette: No matter the arresting agency, arrests records should be open to the public

From the Gaston Gazette (2/20/13): The North Carolina Supreme Court is now weighing an issue stemming from an Elon University matter that will have a ripple effect on every private college in the state with a campus police department. Must law enforcement at private colleges be as open with arrest and other records as their law enforcement counterparts in counties, cities and towns?

While the court has yet to reach its decision, we argue, yes. In fact, we argue absolutely yes.

The issue was raised initially in 2010 by an Elon student and reporter for Phoenix TV, the campus television station. Nick Ochsner sought the arrest record of a student charged with underage drinking and resisting an officer. What Ochsner received in a return from university police was a bare bones document with details removed — or not released — concerning how the arrest was made. There was no mention of any possible chase involving campus police and the student or what circumstances led to a charge of resisting arrest.

When Ochsner asked for clarity he was told campus police were not required to provide anything else. The university contended it was exempt from state public records laws as a private entity.

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Colin Donohue,
2/21/2013 10:14 AM