Ohio college moves to reform police after fatal traffic stop

AP News
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Posted: Aug 10, 2015 8:45 PM
Ohio college moves to reform police after fatal traffic stop

CINCINNATI (AP) — A new public safety director will help lead efforts to reform the University of Cincinnati police department following an officer's fatal off-campus shooting of a motorist stopped over a missing front license plate.

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono on Monday introduced a team of officials who have extensive experience in community policing to lead the reform efforts after UC Officer Ray Tensing's July 19 shooting of Samuel DuBose.

The university fired Tensing shortly after his indictment on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in 43-year-old DuBose's death. Tensing has pleaded not guilty.

The new team headed by criminal justice researcher and UC professor Robin Engel, who has worked as a consultant to police departments internationally, includes James Whalen, who is leaving his job as an assistant police chief for the city. As director of public safety, Whalen will oversee UC's police department and its chief, Jason Goodrich.

Whalen said he will be looking at policies, supervision and training. He also said a goal for police throughout the country should be to find how to get their work done while still working with the community.

"It's not a matter of backing off law and order," he said. "It is a matter of being transparent, being credible and more importantly, being fair."

S. Gregory Baker, a former executive director of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, will direct police and community relations.

"My participation ensures that the community will have a strong voice at the table, and that the process will be transparent and credible," Baker said.

A goal in setting up the team is to create a new way of doing business, said Engel, who was appointed UC's new vice president for safety and reform.

"You need a team of the right leadership, but you need an organizational structure that will make that leadership sustain over time even when the players change," she said.

Engel said looking at best practices and data-driven policing in the past few years helped UC police succeed in reducing violent and property crime on and around the campus.

But she said strategic safety planning did not look directly at officer performance.

"That was a misstep, and it's a step that we are now correcting," she said.