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April 7, 2015

Illinois House gets input from University on bill concerning UCPD

Sponsors of House Bill (H.B.) 3932, seeking to increase the transparency of university police forces in Illinois to their surrounding communities, have asked for input from the University regarding disclosing information about responses to student protests, police routes, protection at speaker events, and other issues related to campus policing.

The sponsors are consulting the University on what information they think is appropriate to require the UCPD to disclose, according to standards of what other private police forces usually make available. The bill was introduced to the Illinois House of Representatives on February 27 in response to repeated requests for UCPD to release information about its practices. H.B. 3932 aims to hold the UCPD accountable to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. 

The bill, drafted largely in response to requests for UCPD policing data, has gained broad support from community and University members; however, its details are still awaiting discussion in the Illinois House of Representatives. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25), Christian Mitchell (D-26), David McSweeney (R-52), and Monique D. Davis (D-27) of the Illinois House of Representatives have co-sponsored the amendment.

Ryan O’Leary, Currie’s chief of staff, said the current conversation with the University is intended to clarify the distinction between the city police force and a private university. He said, “[the conversation] is just a matter of deciding where the line is, insofar as [the UCPD] is acting as a public institution.”

In explaining why the co-sponsors sought the University’s input, O’Leary said: “there are some things that a public police force would be forced to disclose that, because [UChicago] is a private university, it wouldn’t make sense for them to make public [such as] high- level communications.”

O’Leary said the earliest the bill could pass would be next week, but he does not expect it to pass so soon. 

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