Indiana Governor Vetoes Limit on Public Records

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – The same day he signed a controversial abortion bill into law, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence vetoed a bill that sought to limit transparency at private university police departments.
     House Bill 1022 proposed allowing a private university’s police department to withhold investigation records and redact the names of crime victims unless the victim authorizes the release.
     Pence’s office said the bill would have allowed private university police departments to have different standards for public records than other police departments.
     In a related development, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last week that the University of Notre Dame’s police department is a public agency and is subject to the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA).
     The appeals court ruled in favor of ESPN, finding that Notre Dame’s campus police department improperly withheld records from the sports network.
     ESPN had been pushing for over a year to see a campus police report regarding a physical fight that broke out on Sept. 6, 2014, shortly before the school’s Fighting Irish football players were take on the University of Michigan.
     The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision on March 15, saying Notre Dame’s police department qualifies as a public agency under the APRA since it is a law-enforcement agency.
     Pence said he decided to veto the bill on Thursday because it would have limited application of APRA and resulted in less disclosure of public records.
     “Throughout my public career, I have long believed in the public’s right to know and a free and independent press. Limiting access to police records in a situation where private university police departments perform a government function is a disservice to the public and an unnecessary barrier to transparency,” the governor said in a statement. “Hoosiers may be assured that my administration will always be vigilant to preserve government accountability and the public’s right to know.”

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