Greensboro News and Record: Private and public

From the Greensboro News and Record (6/7/12): State law lets private colleges and universities operate fully certified law enforcement agencies with the power to investigate crimes and arrest suspects.

This policy helps create a safer environment for students and faculty.

But something was left out when the Campus Police Act took effect in 2005: accountability. As the N.C. Court of Appeals affirmed Tuesday in a case stemming from Elon University, police departments at private colleges don’t have to comply with the state’s public records laws.

This is an unfortunate loophole that the legislature should close. Every agency with the authority to enforce laws and arrest citizens should be required to release records of those activities. A city police department, county sheriff’s office or state law enforcement agency can’t make arrests and then refuse to open its records to the public; a private university’s police department should not be allowed to carry out the same functions in secret.

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