After repeated unsuccessful requests for campus police records, an Otterbein University student journalist is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order the private school to turn over arrest reports and other records, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The action says that the police department of the Westerville, Ohio, college is a public office performing a governmental function and is required to make records available under Ohio's public-records laws.
Student journalists at the liberal-arts college have battled Otterbein over its refusal to release records since the campus security force became a full-fledged police department of state-certified officers in 2011. “It's an issue of transparency for us, says Anna Schiffbauer, news editor of a student-run news website. Schiffbauer, assisted by a $5,000 grant from the Society of Professional Journalists' Legal Defense Fund, filed the claim against campus police director Larry Banaszak and Robert Gatti, a vice president and dean of student affairs. A school spokeswoman said Otterbein is private and exempt from public-records laws.