STAFF EDITORIAL | Where’s the transparency, BUPD?

Published Sept. 25, 2012

Butler University Police Department has the power to arrest in certain areas outside of Butler’s campus.

BUPD officers are also equipped with firearms and other tools used by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

So why won’t BUPD release all incident reports to those who request them like other police forces do?

On Sept. 11, a  male student shot another student with a pellet gun at Apartment Village.

Though the offender could be charged with a crime in Indiana, little is known about who did it.

A student committed a crime.

But since he was a Butler student and the crime happened on campus, there’s no telling who it was or what has happened to him.

BUPD has given a laundry list of reasons to not release the full details of the incident, including the name of the student who violated both state law and university rules.

All that is known is what BUPD is obligated to maintain by federal law: a crime log that reports the bare bones of crimes and other incidents on campus—a simple what, when and where.

The names of perpetrators are left out, even in extreme circumstances like sexual and violent crimes.

In the pellet gun case, the department opted to not release a full incident report but decided to grant access to a redacted version of the report.

This version had names and other key information blacked out.

While public institutions are required by law to release full incident reports, private institutions are not required to do so but have the option.

And since officers at Butler have full arresting powers and act as the sole police force for Butler, they should follow the same public records laws.

If someone commits a crime on campus, it is a matter of public safety.

Students and faculty should be aware of who committed the crime and how that person was punished so they don’t have to live in fear.

BUPD may not have an obligation outlined by law to release reports, but it has a moral one.

Butler isn’t just where students go to school.

This is their home.

In any other neighborhood, incident reports make people aware of those who may be causing trouble around them.

The department has also refused to release reports if the victims of on-campus incidents decide not to press charges.

Anytime a report is filed with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, it becomes public record, and the release can’t be denied.

But at Butler, if the victim decides to not press charges, the incident report—including the name of the suspect—stays under lock and key.

This isn’t true in the real world.

Off Butler’s campus, crimes are reported and the criminals are named, even if there are no formal charges pressed.

BUPD must stop trying to protect those who commit crimes on campus, in our neighborhoods and in our  homes.

To not release the names of victims of sexual and violent crimes is understandable.

But it is unacceptable to not hold law-breakers and rule-violators responsible for their actions.

If students make the choice to commit a crime, they should be treated as any other adult would be if they broke the law.

Students are adults who know the difference between right and wrong.

Their status as students at a private university does not set them apart from the rest of the world and grant them anonymity when they commit crimes.

The rest of the university community may feel as though perpetrators get off with a slap on the wrist in many situations because punishments are not released.

BUPD is a legitimate police force, and it needs to act more like one.

Releasing incident reports consistently is vital to the community to show students that BUPD takes crime seriously.

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