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BYU Police Department decertified by the state

BYU Police Department vehicles outside the department offices on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

PROVO — The Utah Department of Public Safety has decertified the BYU Police Department, though the department will remain active through Sept. 1 while the school appeals that decision.

DPS officials notified the school about the decertification of BYU police in a letter to BYU President Kevin Worthen, reading in part:

The Brigham Young University Police Department (BYUPD) failed to comply with the certification criteria… specifically, between 2016 and April 2018, BYUPD failed to conduct an internal investigation into specific allegations of misconduct by a BYUPD officer and failed to report any findings found to be true to Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)

which is required by Utah state law. The letter continues:

BYUPD failed to comply with a subpoena issued by POST Investigations on June 28, 2018 pursuant to a POST investigation into allegations of misconduct of a BYUPD officer,

also required by state law.

The state initially sent BYU a letter in December saying it was at risk of decertification if police didn’t allow the state to review all necessary records and data for an investigation.

A statement on BYU’s website says the school intends to appeal:

BYU finds this decision confounding and disagrees with the grounds for seeking decertification.  The Department of Public Safety believes that University Police failed to meet criteria for an internal investigation and a response to a subpoena. BYU, however, believes that University Police met all applicable criteria and is surprised that the commissioner is issuing a letter on these technical grounds.

BYU plans to file a responsive pleading and demonstrate in a hearing how University Police has complied with these certification criteria. BYU continues to believe that the best way to protect its students, and to protect BYU’s campus without putting a disproportionate fiscal burden on Provo’s taxpayers, is to have comprehensive police protection through Provo City and University Police.

Officials from BYUPD say they agree their department should be held to the same transparency rules as other agencies.  They went to Capitol Hill to support a bill that would require all police departments run by private organizations to comply with public records requests in the same way every other department does.  However, Police Chief Chris Autry says SB 197 is separate from the DPS certification issue.

“This issue of GRAMA is different than what was released to the media earlier today about the certification of the BYU agency.  That has to do with a POST investigation and BYU is appealing it,” Autry says.

University Counsel Heather Gunnarson adds, “We agree that University Police should be subject to the same level of transparency and accountability as any other law enforcement office in the state.”

The bill passed through committee, unanimously.

What happens if BYU loses their appeal, and the department is de-certified?  Provo Mayor Michelle Kafusi issued a statement saying the city would be able to pick up the slack if needed.

The statement reads…