Law Enforcement Visit Protocol

Last Update: April 13, 2004

(Adapted from the American Library Association's "Confidentiality and Coping with Law Enforcement Inquiries: Guidelines for the Library and its Staff")

  1. The Library Director is responsible for handling law enforcement requests. If the director is unavailable, contact the Associate Vice President for Academic Programs or the Assistant Library Director.
  2. Library staff should refer the requesting agent or officer to the proper Library administrator, and should not respond immediately to any request. The Library Director should ask for identification and contact the UVU campus attorney to advise a plan of action.
  3. The Director should meet with the agent or officer with the campus attorney or another colleague in attendance.
    1. If the agent or officer does not have a court order, the Director should explain the Library's confidentiality guidelines and the state's confidentiality law (Utah Code Ann. § 63-2-302), and inform the agent or officer that the users' records are not available except when a proper court order has been presented to the Library.
      1. The only information the Library Director or staff members are required to give to the agent or officer are their own names and addresses.
      2. In cases where the agent or officer persists, the Director should say something like "as good citizens, the Library staff will not respond to informal requests for confidential information, in conformity with professional ethics, First Amendment freedoms, and state law."
    2. If a court order is produced, immediately refer the court order to the campus attorney.
    3. If the court order is in the form of a subpoena:
      1. Review with the campus attorney for legal defects.
      2. If the subpoena is in good form, follow the subpoena strictly, with legal counsel on the premises, and do not provide any information that is not specifically requested.
    4. If the court order is in the form of a search warrant:
      1. Search warrants are executable immediately, and a search of Library records may begin as soon as the Library administrator is served with the court order.
      2. Ask to have legal counsel present before the search to allow time to examine the search warrant and assure that the search conforms to the terms of the search warrant.
      3. Cooperate with the search to produce the identified records.
      4. Search warrants issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court also contain a "gag order," meaning no person or institution served with a search warrant can disclose that the warrant has been served or that records have been produced for that warrant. The Library staff must comply and no information can be disclosed to any other party, including the patron whose records are the subject of the search warrant.
  4. After the visit, the Library Director should review the court order with the campus attorney to comply with any remaining requirements, review the current privacy procedures and protocols, and be prepared to communicate with the news media.