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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "No conflict of interest on bill about police records at Indiana colleges?"

Updating four earlier ILB posts on HB 1022 [see footnote], the South Bend Tribune today has an interesting story by Margaret Fosmoe headed " No conflict of interest on bill about police records at Indiana colleges, legislator says: Sits on panel of group tied to measure." Some quotes:

In the wake of a legal fight that started early last year over records by Notre Dame Security Police, state Rep. B. Patrick Bauer took a strong stand, declaring that records by police departments at private colleges and universities in Indiana should be subject to public disclosure.

“We need to either abolish these private police forces or do what’s right,” Bauer told The Tribune in April. “Notre Dame shouldn’t be hiding behind this. It’s worse than silly … it’s just wrong.”

Earlier this month, Bauer, D-South Bend, indeed followed up and co-sponsored a bill on the topic for this session of the General Assembly. But critics have argued it falls well short of making private university police forces more transparent. The bill, in fact, is limited to making public some information related to arrests or incarcerations for criminal offenses.

The bill was drafted with the help of Independent Colleges of Indiana. Notre Dame, which is embroiled in a legal fight with sports giant ESPN over its police records, is a member of the organization. And Bauer has served on the group’s board of directors for at least five years.

Bauer on Wednesday said there is no conflict of interest. His board seat is unpaid, Bauer said, and the proposed legislation would not benefit him. He insisted the bill is intended to increase the amount of information available to the public regarding police investigations on private campuses. * * *

He said that as he started drafting legislation, Independent Colleges “offered to work with me on it, and we came up with this bill.”

The group “helped me write parts of the bill because they have the expertise,” he added.

Last week, Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said by email that the university “offered its support, perspective and assistance to the leaders of the Independent Colleges of Indiana as they worked with Rep. Bauer.” * * *

The bill, HB 1022, passed the House Government and Regulatory Reform committee this week.

The bill would not make private university police departments subject to Indiana’s public records law, such as city, county and public university police agencies are. Steve Key, an attorney and executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, has said the legislation does not go far enough and “doesn’t put private university police departments on an equal footing” with public police departments.

Seven other Indiana legislators also sit on the Independent Colleges board, including Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend. The organization represents 31 private colleges and universities in the state.

For a list of all the ILB posts on the ESPN vs. Notre Dame lawsuit, see here.


Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 14, 2016 11:25 AM
Posted to Indiana Government