HUPD may be forced to make police records publicly available by Massachusetts state law

CORRECTION APPENDED

Harvard and other private institutions in Massachusetts could soon be forced to open their police records to the public.

On April 18, the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight passed the “Campus Crime Information Bill,” and the bill now awaits Massachusetts State Senate action.

Currently, police records are released by Massachusetts local police and campus police at state schools, but private colleges are not required to release their law enforcement records, according to the bill.

A similar bill was proposed two years ago, but failed because it was not voted on by the required July deadline.

Unlike the previous bill, which targeted the hospital records as well, the current bill specifies “a college or a university” as the type of institution for which law enforcement documents would be public information.

Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesman Steven G. Catalano wrote in an e-mail that the bill could have a detrimental effect on campus safety. [CORRECTION BELOW]

“We are concerned that the most recent drafts of the legislation that we have seen might require reporting and public disclosure of any interactions between campus police and students or the public and might create a chilling effect on individuals who might otherwise want to seek assistance,” he said.

CORRECTION

The April 29 story, "HUPD may be forced to make police records publicly available by Massachusetts state law," incorrectly attributed comments made by Kevin Casey, Harvard's associate vice president for government, community, and public relations, to HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano.