Campus police departments at UNC-system schools do a decent job complying with federal and state public disclosure laws — with a few notable exceptions.
In honor of Sunshine Week, The Daily Tar Heel decided to evaluate how well campus police departments at public universities around the state follow the federal Clery Act and the N.C. public records law.
Reporters were sent to many schools with simple inquiries:
-Can I see the police log?
-Can you tell me how many sexual assaults there have been on campus this school year?
-Can you give me the names, ages and addresses of all students arrested for driving while impaired on campus in 2009?
According to the statutes, the police log should have been provided immediately, and responses to the second two inquiries given as promptly as possible.
People requesting the information are not required to state a reason for wanting it.
“The public records law reflects the important principles of the public’s right to know about the workings of government,” said Ashley Perkinson, a media law attorney. “Certainly in the area of public safety, the public’s right to know is critical for a safe society.”
Appalachian State University
Officers directed the reporter to a “daily media log” in the reception area, which included incident reports dating back to December. After the inquiry for statistics and names, another officer was brought out. He provided the annual crime report but did not indicate that newer information would be provided.
East Carolina University
Officers provided the police log. They directed the reporter to fill out a police record request online in response to the request for statistics and names. Those reports take at least five days for a response.
N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University
When a reporter asked to see the police log, the officer initially asked for credentials. When the reporter responded that none were needed, the officer laughed and said he was kidding. He was then receptive and helpful. The police log held incident reports dating back to January. The officers said they did not have the information regarding the inquiry for statistics and names and directed the reporter to somebody else, who was not available.
N.C. Central University
Officers first did not know what the police log was and asked who the reporter was and who he represented. When the reporter responded that he simply wanted to view public information, the officer was cordial and responsive. The officer provided a box of incident reports dating back to January. The reporter was directed to a lieutenant for statistics and names, but that officer would not be in until the next day.