Numbers reveal policing practices at UC - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

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Numbers reveal policing practices at UC

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

New documents released exclusively to FOX19 NOW on Friday reveal the numbers and nature of certain categories of police work for the University of Cincinnati Police Department.
 
Also contained in the documents are numbers pertaining to ex-officer Ray Tensing’s time with the department.
 
The report breaks down numbers from the first day of 2012, through July 27, 2015.  The numbers are broken down year by year and by race.
 
There are five categories measured:

  • Number of Traffic Stops
  • Number of Stops with Citations
  • Number of Stops with Arrests
  • Number of Citations Issued
  • Number of Arrest Charges

Of the five categories, all of them are broken down further by race, with the exception of “Number of Traffic Stops.”  The report, compiled by the University of Cincinnati Institute of Crime Science, says demographic information is not documented of the driver during a traffic stop.  “Demographic information is only available if formal action is taken (e.g., citation or arrest),” the report states.
 
The department has 72 police officers and 26 security officers on duty that patrol the school’s campuses all day, every day. Their work is documented in the report.

"First of all, the exponential jump in numbers is shocking,” said city council member Kevin Flynn.

Of the five reported categories bulleted above, total traffic stops, stops with citations and citations issued have risen in each documented year from 2012 through 2015.  One expert explains that the numbers may be reminiscent of a theory of busting anyone for anything, big and small.

"That's not inconsistent with 'broken windows,' because you're going to be stopping a lot of people,” said James Ponzi, a professor of criminology at Regis University. He has 35 years in law enforcement, and has done work studying police statistics.

The numbers are further broken down by race – white, black and other – year by year.  Again, race information is not kept for total number of traffic stops.

In the four remaining categories where race is measured, there were a total of 2,510 incidents in 2014 documented for stops with citations, stops with arrests, citations issued an arrests.
 
Of those, 1,021 involved whites, 1,342 involved blacks and 147 were other.
 
In the very same categories for 2015, there have been 3,553 incidents reported so far through July 27, 2015.
 
Whites account for 932 of them, while blacks account for 2,354 incidents, with the largest jump being a more than doubling of citations issued to blacks from 2014 (610 citations) to 2015 (1,330 citations), still with several months to go in the year.

"One factor there may be the demographics as far as how many blacks and how many whites live in the area,” Ponzi said.

Now ex-officer Ray Tensing joined the UC Police force in 2014.  Later in 2014, UC hired a new police chief, as well.  Tensing’s numbers were also reported as part of the study, and measured in the same four categories where race is measured. 

In 2014, his numbers of stops with citations, stops with arrests, citations issued and arrests totaled 273.  In the same categories in 2015, his numbers totaled 360. In each of those years, Tensing’s total numbers are more than 10% of the entire department’s documented numbers in this report.  Again, there were 2,510 incidents measured in 2014, and 3,553 incidents measured so far in 2015.
 
In Tensing’s numbers, there is a noticeable spike in citations issued to blacks from 119 in all of 2014, to 189 through this point of 2015.  He also goes from zero to 9 citations in the “other” category in the same time frame. The other categories remain fairly steady with little change from year to year.

"The racial differential and flip, if you will, of the numbers is shocking. I can't explain it.  I don't know why,” Flynn told FOX19 NOW.

Officials with the University of Cincinnati responded to the release of this report with a statement saying, “The University of Cincinnati is conducting a top to bottom review of all UC police policies, practices and procedures including data for all traffic stops with citations and arrests. Immediate action will be taken based on critical findings."

Tensing was subject to evaluations in 2014 while an officer with the Greenhills Police Department, and another evaluation when he joined the UC Police Department.  

In an evaluation in 2014, the reviewer writes that, “We would like to see Officer Tensing be more visible in the Village itself and look for violations in residential areas.”  That write-up is strikingly similar to a narrative written in a 2014 evaluation from the University of Cincinnati with the reviewer saying, “I would like him to interact with the community in a more service-oriented manner.”  But, he’s also praised for being “extremely active with traffic.”  In another part of that evaluation, it’s written, “I would like to see PO Tensing interact with the university and surrounding community more than just with traffic enforcement.”

View the documents here

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