Court Allows Campus Police Reports To Stay Private at Notre Dame

The ruling ends a debate over whether or not the school’s police department must follow public records laws.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the University of Notre Dame doesn’t have to give its crime reports to ESPN Wednesday.

The unanimous ruling ends a lawsuit filed by ESPN in January 2015 that argued the university had an obligation to release crime reports about student athletes under an open records law.

An appeals court had sided with ESPN in March, arguing that the open records law applied to the school because it’s police department has legal authority from the state and has jurisdiction outside of the university’s campus, reports ABC News.

But the Supreme Court justices decided the law didn’t apply because Notre Dame isn’t part of the government.

“A grant of arrest powers enabling university police departments to keep order on their private campuses does not transform those officers or the trustees who oversee them into public officials and employees,” Justice Mark Massa wrote in his decision.

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The court’s ruling follows a disagreement in the other branches of Indiana government earlier this year when legislators approved a bill allowing private colleges in the state to avoid open records laws. That bill was vetoed by Governor Mike Pence, who argued the college police departments perform a government function and should be transparent.

Although Notre Dame follows other federal crime disclosure laws like the Clery Act, officer crime reports are not subject to disclosure.

ESPN released a statement saying it was disappointed by the ruling and “what it represents for public transparency.”

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