DeWine: Otterbein police records are public

From the Columbus Dispatch

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants to enter the legal fight over whether the arrest records and incident reports of private police forces are public records. 

DeWine asked the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday to accept his arguments supporting a lawsuit filed by a former Otterbein University student journalist seeking police records from the private Westerville school. 

Since the Otterbein police department – and others at private universities and hospitals – is a creation of state law, they are public offices required to turn over records, DeWine’s office wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief. 

Anna Schiffbauer, then news editor of, a student-run news website, sued Otterbein earlier this year over its refusal to turn over records of arrests made by university police. 

Otterbein responded in its court filings that its police records are not public because it is a private institution neither funded nor controlled by state government. The university has asked the justices to dismiss the lawsuit. 

Since state law grants officers working for private employers police powers that include arrest authority, private police forces are subject to Ohio’s public records law, DeWine’s office wrote in its filing. 

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