CPs Now Obey Information LawsBy Christopher L. Falling
Associate News Editor
As a result of a 1992 clarification of a Department of Education privacy act, the Campus Police are now required to release the names of students they arrest.
Historically, the Campus Police have blacked out the names of students it has arrested, said Chief Anne P. Glavin. "We were concerned not only [with] having to comply with the log law, but also with federal law," she said.
Under that law, known as the Buckley Amendment, DoE states that educational records of students should remain confidential. But in his 1992 Student Press Law Center v. Alexander decision, U.S. District Judge Stanley Harris made it clear that the Buckley Amendment could not be used to justify denial of access to campus crime information.
Questions about Campus Police's compliance with the law arose following the 1992 theft of an Undergraduate Association election ballot box. The theft, which took place before the amendment had been clarified, resulted in the discovery by The Tech that the Campus Police might in fact not have been abiding by this law.
The Campus Police have been required by Massachusetts state law to maintain a log of names and addresses of people they arrest accessible by the public since 1980.
Police log includes names
The Tech currently publishes the weekly campus police log, which includes the names and addresses of people arrested by the Campus Police, a policy with which Glavin has had some disagreement.
"The community needs to know what is going on, but the identities of [victims] is not critical," Glavin said. Most of the arrests on campus do not involve members of the MIT community, and arrests involving students are even more scarce, she said.
When asked about The Tech's May 2 publication of the name of a student who was arrested, Glavin said, "Under the circumstances I don't think that it was the best thing to do. I wish the name had not been published."
"We feel it is our responsibility as journalists to provide information like the Police Log with as much complete and practical content as possible," said Daniel C. Stevenson '97, editor in chief of The Tech. "The names and addresses of all persons arrested by the CPs, including students, are relevant information that the public has both a right and a need to know."
"I think the readers benefit from The Tech providing information about Campus Police arrests, be it as minimal as names and addresses in the log or as much as a full article," Stevenson said.
The Campus Police maintain that because it is a private institution, its internal records - including incident reports - do not fall under the public records law, Glavin said.
Currently, incidents involving complaints between members of the community are handled internally by the Campus Police, Glavin said. The complainant is informed of his or her rights to have the dispute settled internally or though a court hearing, she said.
If the complaint is settled internally, then there is no public record of the incident, Glavin said. However if the complainant wishes to press charges, a complaint is initiated in courts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she said.
Once a complaint enters court it is handled through the district attorney's office and becomes a matter of public record accessible through the courts, Glavin said. Cases being heard by the judicial system require that police records relating to the defendant be held in confidentiality by the Criminal Offenders Record Information Law, she said.Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
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Volume 115, Number 24.
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