PROVO, Utah -- More details are coming to light as to why the Department of Public Safety launched an investigation into the BYU Police Department.
Up until now, it was only clear that the state was taking a look at how BYU PD handles sex assault records. Provo Police have a stake in what’s found.
“We're eagerly awaiting the outcome,” said Sergeant Brian Taylor. “We at the Provo Police Department are just concerned to know that our reports are safeguarded.”
He explained they got involved after a BYU student claimed the university investigated her for potential honor code violations, when she was sexually assaulted and raped.
He said that led to concerns as to how the victim’s report ended up in the Title IX office, and if Provo Police had anything to do with it.
“That prompted a look by the Provo Police Department to see how our reports were being used,” Taylor said. “When we began that inquiry, we realized that we were talking about a large number of access requests into Provo Police Department reports.”
He said the original report in question came from a different source, which sparked a controversy all its own.
Meanwhile, Provo Police happened to realize BYU PD had taken a peek at more than a thousand of their reports.
“There was such a significant number of reports being accessed that it caused us to wonder why,” Taylor said.
Sgt. Taylor said they file all of their information—reports, victim names, suspect names, all crimes, you name it—into a database called Spillman. Provo Police, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and BYU Police all use Spillman, and can access reports from each of the other agencies.
There are ground rules when it comes to accessing records from other agencies.
“That information is protected, it’s important,” Sgt. Taylor said.
He said it can, “Only be used for investigative purpose, and it’s a violation to use it for any other purpose.”
Violating the policy and using Spillman for other reasons, he said, could be punishable by criminal charges. He said public confidence and trust is at stake in this investigation.
BYU Police Lieutenant Steven Messick issued a statement to Fox 13 Sunday night, which read:
“The Spillman system was set up so law enforcement agencies can share information, prevent and solve crime, and document all calls for service. It is a county-wide system accessible by all agencies in Utah County. This sharing of records enhances the quality of law enforcement and is standard practice by Utah County agencies.
Chief Stott personally asked Public Safety Commissioner Squires to perform an audit on our department’s use of records. What is unclear is if we access these records more or less than other agencies. This is where an audit will be helpful and why we asked for it.
It is not the normal practice of the department to access non-public information on the Spillman system and then use it in Honor Code investigations. However, in an effort to identify any errors, the university's Police Chief proactively asked for the audit.
The university looks forward to the audit's findings as an opportunity to verify that the department regularly uses the Spillman system for appropriate purposes; however, if there are improvements the department can make, it looks forward to making them.”