Investigative Contact by Law Enforcement, Policy and Procedures
To assist University faculty and staff in responding to investigative contact by law enforcement officials.
University faculty and staff
The following procedures have been developed to assist University faculty and staff in responding to investigative contact by law enforcement officials. This is an increasingly important issue due to the governmental responses to the events of September 11, 2001 and the passage of new legislation. Several legislative changes have occurred in light of those events, the most important of which is the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act).
Under the Patriot Act, educational institutions are affected in several ways, including:
1. a provision (Title V, Removing Obstacles to Investigating Terrorism, section 507) that allows representatives of the U.S. Attorney General to submit a written application to a court for an ex parte order requiring an educational institution to collect and produce education records that might otherwise be protected by FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act),
2. institutional personnel are prohibited by law from disclosing that the FBI has sought or obtained records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations to anyone other than those absolutely necessary to produce the requested information (Title II, Enhanced Surveillance Procedures, section 215) (Those considered absolutely necessary may include your dean, director, or department chair, as well as University General Counsel), and
3. immunity for the University as a provider of electronic communications services if it furnishes information or assistance in accordance with a court order or a request for emergency assistance under the Act (Title II, section 225).
In order to protect yourself and the institution from any liability as a result of sharing information to assist with ongoing law enforcement investigations, please refer to and follow these procedures in all your interactions with law enforcement.
Please contact the Office of the University General Counsel with any questions or concerns.
General Statement on Investigative Contact
It is the policy of the University of Kansas to require a subpoena, search warrant or other court order for all information released to law enforcement agencies, except for student directory information. Student directory information may be released unless a student has specifically requested that it not be released. Student directory information is defined in the Student Records Policy of the Office of the University Registrar at http://policy.drupal.ku.edu/registrar/student-record-policy. (See also the section below on requests for student information.) The University General Counsel is available to assist you in determining the validity of subpoena, search warrant or other court orders.
Requests for Non-Directory Information
If you are approached by law enforcement in person or by phone with a general request for information, confirm with the investigative agent that release of non-directory information may only occur upon service of a subpoena, search warrant or other court order. Ask to see the agent’s credentials and make a copy. If you are the first point of contact with an investigative agent who is delivering a subpoena, search warrant or other court order, ask the agent for permission to contact University General Counsel at 785-864-3276 to assist you with reviewing the paperwork. Contact University General Counsel immediately for assistance. If the agent refuses to wait before executing the instructions detailed in a search warrant or court order, contact University General Counsel, but do not inhibit the progress of the investigation.
If the request is received outside of normal business hours, call the Computer Center Network Operations Center (NOC) at 864-0110. NOC staff will ensure that appropriate personnel are contacted to assist you.
Requests for Student Information
If you are contacted by a representative from a law enforcement organization (KU Public Safety Office, District Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, etc.) who seeks information about students or is conducting an investigation of an alleged violation involving a KU student, you should refer the requesting agency to the Office of the University Registrar in 121 Strong Hall. The Registrar’s Office will know whether a student has chosen not to release directory information, and it will provide guidance regarding appropriate actions to be taken. You should also immediately inform the University General Counsel at 785-864-3276.
Computer, Electronic Information or Network-Related Requests
If you are contacted by a representative from a law enforcement organization (KU Public Safety Office, District Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, etc.) who is conducting an investigation of an alleged violation involving KU computing and networking resources, you should immediately inform the Office of the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance at 785-864-4904 and the University General Counsel at 785-864-3276.
Refer the requesting agency to the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance; those offices will provide guidance regarding appropriate actions to be taken.
Authorization for Law Enforcement Investigation of Computer Trespass
Any member of the KU community who knows or believes that KU information resources or systems have been compromised by a computer trespasser and believes the matter needs to be investigated by law enforcement should first report this request to the Office of the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance. This office will determine whether to contact law enforcement. Changes under the Patriot Act allow a system owner or operator to authorize law enforcement intercept of electronic communications of computer trespassers (Title II, section 217).
If, during the normal course of business, you become aware of information about an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury, contact the KU Public Safety Office immediately.
A representative of a law enforcement agency who is conducting a background check and who has a release signed by the current or former student or employee is excluded from this policy. However, before providing information, you should (1) ask to see the agent’s credentials or otherwise confirm the agent's identity; and (2) ensure that the release covers the requested information. Be sure to keep a copy of the release in the student’s records.
Office of the University General Counsel
245 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7535
(785) 864-4617 (Fax)
Originally written by: Offices of General Counsel, Public Safety, Registrar, Vice Provost for Information Services, Vice Provost for Student Support and Department of Human Resources; updated August 2011 by representatives of the Offices of the General Counsel, Public Safety, University Registrar, Chief Information Officer, Vice Provost for Student Success, Human Resources, and Equal Opportunity, and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
07/20/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
Originally approved August 28, 2002; revised December 6, 2002, May 22, 2003, and September 9, 2011.