Student journalists triumph over police

Jennifer Greenlee


The Utah State Records Committee supported the Utah Valley University’s Review stating that campus police reports should be provided free for student journalists to inspect.

UVU Police Department had been charging $5 per initial incident report and $10 for police reports. These reports typically are about a paragraph long.

Mack Jones, former Review Editor-in-Chief and current reporter, and Utah Society of Professional Journalists President Eric Peterson challenged the $5 charge and brought the matter to the State Records Committee on Oct. 10.

The charge didn’t begin until 2017, when the police implemented fees for the initial contact report.

According to the notice of appeal filed with the Utah State Records Committee in April, before fall 2017, the original format of the initial contact contained information regarding the call, location, responding officer’s name, disposition, unit name, time reported, time dispatched, time completed, and a law narrative describing the officer’s initial findings.

In Nov. 2017, the format changed and only contained the nature of the call, the date and time reported, the date and time occurred, general location and disposition.

In addition, the reports had to be accessed through a GRAMA request, which is a form that allows every person to request records from any government entity in Utah.

Information, like initial contact reports, is made available for students to read and report on to keep readers safe and to report on crime data.

The decision was 6-0 for the Review and the decision stated the UVU Police Department should provide the reports free of charge for the reporters.

“The committee’s decision today shows that it’s not right for a campus police department to try and price reporters out of doing their jobs,” Peterson stated in the SPJ press release. “Reporters are just trying to keep the campus public informed and safe — that mission shouldn’t put them at odds with a police agency; it should put them on the same page about the importance of transparency.”

UVU spokesman Scott Trotter said the school would respect the decision of the committee and abide by it.

“I hope it shows that even if it gets hard, we’re not going to back down and we’ll try to keep doing our job the way we should do it as reporters,” Jones said.