SPLC.org: Private N.C colleges lobby to amend campus police records law before court rules

From SPLC.org (2/26/13): After a former college journalist's open records battle reached North Carolina's highest court earlier this month, some private universities have asked state legislators to pass legislation before the court rules.

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a measure, introduced last week by State Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston County), that would significantly open up police records on all private campuses in the state. It amends the state’s Campus Police Act to mirror the language of the state’s open records law for all universities so that any person can obtain a narrative of the arrest beyond the basic date, time and location of the incident.

The “circumstances surrounding an arrest,” as worded in the bill, is information Nick Ochsner sought from Elon University in March 2010. Ochsner, a former reporter for the school’s campus TV station, was given some information about but denied the complete incident report detailing a fellow student’s arrest in 2010.

The police department justified the skeletal details because Elon is a private institution and therefore its records are private. Ochsner filed a lawsuit claiming the the department was a public agency with a state power to arrest, citing a law that names the state’s attorney general as the custodian of all campus police records.

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