UC plans to implement a program similar to the collaborative agreement that governs Cincinnati Police and community relations.
The university says a collaborative agreement-style plan is part of how the school plans to reform its policing efforts following the shooting death of motorist Sam DuBose by former UC Officer Ray Tensing during a July 19 traffic stop.
UC's newly named Vice President for Safety and Reform, Robin Engel, says she's assembled a team that is hand-picked for sustainable change.
"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," says Engel. "So that what we really have is a new way of doing business."
Joining Engel in the reform process are former Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Jim Whalen, who is now UC's Director of Public Safety, and Greg Baker, who is Cincinnati's former public safety director and the former director of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). Baker's new title is Director of Police Community Relations. UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich, who joined the university in November 2014, remains in that capacity.
Baker says he wants to bring all sides together to get to the root causes of issues. He also praised UC's swift response. "We'll use our 2002 collaborative agreement as our road map," he says. "I'm sure that at the culmination of this work, the University of Cincinnati will be the new standard in building relationships of trust and respect between the police and community to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all."
Like Baker, Whalen was also involved in the post-2001 rebuilding process. He says he had a front row seat to that process. He says he'll use those experiences to bring change to UC. "It's not a matter of backing off on law and order," he says. "It is a matter of being transparent, being credible, and more importantly, being fair."
Whalen says he wants to get UC to a point where the campus is safe and public safety is nearly invisible. He says policy, supervision and training are like three legs of a stool that move an organization forward. "As I enter this new roll, my first order of business will be to examine those pieces of the UCPD organization. I know that it exists. I know that they have a sound structure.
What UC creates won't be exactly like Cincinnati's collaborative agreement, given that college campus structure. "The same kind of thinking applies," says Whalen. "I think the net result looks a little different." When you're in an urban environment, oftentimes the police are the center of attention... In an academic environment like this, we need to be almost invisible. When you turn on the light switch you don't think about the miles of wires that makes the light come on. That's the way safety needs to be in a campus environment and around the campus environment. And that's what we'll strive to do. Visible enough to get the job done but recognizing our roll to support those around us: the students, the faculty, and particularly the community that's impacted by where we live, where we have our events and the things that we do here."
When asked about his response to learning UC police officers have stopped disproportionately more blacks than whites, UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich said he was horrified. "That number is not acceptable." He says metrics haven't been in place to track such data.
That's going to be changing.
Both Engel and Whalen stress a data-driven approach.
Engel says she and UCPD have been very focused during the last two years on safety on and around campus. She says there has been great success in reducing violent crime and property crime. However, she says they didn't look at officer performance. "And that was a miss-step... and it's a step that we're now correcting moving forward."