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External Report Makes Reform Recommendations For UC Police

Bill Rinehart
Members of the Exiger consultant team, and UC's public safety leaders discuss the reforms for campus policing.

An independent review of the University of Cincinnati Police Department is recommending a number of changes, including a review of the policy for use of deadly force.

 The review began after the shooting death of an unarmed motorist by a campus police officer last July.

  The vice president of public safety and reform at UC says the department now has a clear path forward with the consultant's report. Robin Engel says Exiger made 25 recommendations necessary to transform the department.

"I've heard from many community members, 'when you have this report, will it just sit on the shelf? Will it just be one more report?' And my answer to you is very clear: this is not just another report. This is a report that is a roadmap. It is a guide for our implementation," says Engel. 

The reforms will not have a negative impact on campus safety, Engel says. 

Director of Public Safety James Whalen says a number of changes have already been made.

"Virtually every recommendation that's in Exiger's report, we already recognize," Whalen says. "And I'm probably the least surprised person in the room… in that we recognize the things that we need to do. We've been working on the things that we need to do. And a lot of those key findings and recommendations are already in the process of being implemented."

Whalen says the department has started monthly reviews of officer performance, daily reviews of body camera footage, and has implemented inspections.

The report comes 11 months after the shooting death of Samuel DuBose by UC police officer Ray Tensing. Tensing was fired and is awaiting trial for murder.

Engel says the reforms announced Tuesday need to be continued into the future.

"We need to make sure that once our changes are made, that we have a system in place that will sustain that work, And build this continual reflection: an agency that is flexible, that is insightful, and innovative," Engel says. 

The recommended reforms include revising the department's use of force policies, developing an internal audit procedure, and arming officers with stun guns.

Engel says stun guns reduce injuries to officers and civilians, and are widely considered a "best practice" in law enforcement.

"We are very sensitive to the needs and to the concerns of our community," Engel says. "So this is one of those recommendations that we will be looking for discussion with our community, with our community advisory council, with our Board of Trustees and our administration to really look at that and determine whether or not that makes sense for us moving forward," Engel says.

In 2011, a summer school student died after a UC officer used a Taser on him.

The university is holding a forum Tuesday night to discuss the Exiger report with the community.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.