Cincinnati terminates UCPD patrols, investigating traffic stops - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Cincinnati terminates UCPD patrols, investigating traffic stops

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Days after the University of Cincinnati released patrol numbers to FOX19 under an open records act, a city council committee votes to suspend UCPD patrol on city streets. The Law and Public Safety Committee approved an ordinance ending off campus patrols and opening an investigation into the university department’s policing.

FOX19 filed an open records request with UC on July 22 asking for records related to patrol stops since Jan. 1, 2013. On July 27, UC released a spreadsheet with thousands of stops but later informed FOX19 the information the university released was not accurate.
 
It took UC another four days to release a report compiled by two university staffers. The report did not contain the specific information we requested under the state’s open records act, only a summary compiled by the university.

What those figures show has the city’s Law and Public Safety committee asking city administrators for an investigation into who UCPD’s stopped and why.

UCPD CITY’S MOST ACTIVE TRAFFIC UNIT

Records contained in the UC report show the numbers of traffic stops and number of traffic tickets tripled while the total charges made by UCPD increased by more than five times when compared to UCPD totals recorded in 2013.
 
On Dec. 19, 2013, CPD and the city amended and updated an agreement with UC, allowing UCPD to patrol inside of Cincinnati police districts. The agreement limited UCPD’s patrols outside its jurisdiction to “serious traffic offenses.”
 
The agreement defines “serious traffic offenses” as those that “jeopardizes public safety and/or constitutes a misdemeanor of the fourth degree or a higher offense.”
 
The UC report lists totals for several categories we requested under the open records act. Those are:

NUMBER OF TRAFFIC STOPS:
2013: 713
2014: 1,453
2015: 2,028
 
STOPS WITH TICKETS:
2013: 344
2014: 729
2015: 932
 
STOPS WITH ARRESTS:
2013: 197
2014: 265
2015: 223
 
TOTAL CHARGES ISSUED:
2013: 464
2014: 1,067
2015: 1,920
 
“It may be something that looks bad, but isn’t bad,” Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell told FOX19. “But, I really think we need to look at that.”
 
Blackwell spent more than an hour before the Law and Public Safety Committee Monday discussing the agreement with UC and the impacts it’s had on those who have faced UCPD’s traffic enforcement.
 
Blackwell agreed, the numbers indicate UCPD’s primary focus has turned to traffic enforcement since the agreement of 2013. “It looks that way and if that’s the case, that’s something that needs to stop,” the chief told FOX19.

Blackwell is in favor of the committee’s decision to suspend UCPD patrols inside CPD’s jurisdiction until the city can finish an investigation into the university’s policing practices.
 
“What are their goals? And, if their goals are to write a lot of traffic tickets, then we need to look at that because we don’t believe that’s a proper or prudent thing to do,” Blackwell said.

Our investigation into UCPD’s policing started after former UC officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Sam DuBose during a July 19 traffic stop. The Hamilton County grand jury indicted Tensing last week on a murder charge and backed that
charge up with a lesser-included charge of voluntary manslaughter.
 
Tensing pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment last week.

Chief Blackwell told FOX19 the circumstances that led to Sam DuBose’s death were the result of UCPD’s targeted traffic enforcement—an effort that sought out minor traffic violations as reasons to conduct traffic stops, “We think it would
have changed that. We think the traffic enforcement in the DuBose case is exactly the type of traffic enforcement we want to see stop. Stationary, random patrols off campus property,” Blackwell said.

RACIAL PROFILING’ POSSIBILITIES IN THE NUMBERS
“That’s astounding. You don’t want to make accusations, but it’s like—there’s disparate impact and then there’s profiling,” Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said during Monday’s Law and Public Safety Committee, “That’s a huge number.”
 
The committee was responding to a FOX19 report regarding the racial makeup of UCPD’s traffic and non-traffic citations and arrests since just before and after the 2013 policing agreement that allowed the department to police inside Cincinnati
Police’s jurisdiction.
 
The UC report shows the number of whites who came into contact with UCPD since 2013 nearly doubled from 579 in 2013 to 932 from Jan. 1, 2015 through July 27, 2015.

The report also shows the number of blacks who came into contact with UCPD quadrupled from 633 in all of 2013 to 2,354 from Jan. 1, 2015 through July 27, 2015.

“How can that be? In a limited area. We’re not even talking all of the city of Cincinnati—we’re talking a very limited area of the city,” Councilman Kevin Flynn said in a FOX19 interview Monday.
 
Flynn was one of three committee members who voted to suspend UCPD’s off campus patrols while the city can investigate whether the December 2013 agreement is doing what the city intended.

“Stop it. Let’s figure out what’s going on. Why this is going on—let’s get on the same page,” Flynn said. “Because if you’re going to be enforcing laws on our streets, we want you using the same philosophy that we’ve learned from over
the years.”
 
Council members and Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell spent much of Monday’s council meeting discussing the racial makeup of UCPD’s traffic enforcement. Blackwell said the numbers showed enough evidence for a review.
 
“I was a little bit concerned—I can’t lie—I’m a little bit concerned about the numbers and the discrepancy in the culture and race of the drivers that are stopped. I think we have to look at that to see if there’s anything there,” Blackwell
told FOX19.
 
“These types of enforcement activities deteriorate trust very, very quickly and we can’t have that,” Blackwell said.
 
UC HASN’T AGREED TO ALLOW CHIEF TO INTERVIEW
We’ve tried since Monday morning to interview University of Cincinnati Police Chief Jason Goodrich regarding the enforcement numbers. As of this report, UC has not agreed to allow FOX19 to interview the chief.
 
It’s standard procedure for media outlets to work though the university’s public information office when requesting interviews with staff. We requested an interview with Goodrich at 10:18 a.m. Monday and did not get a response from UC’s
media contact, Michelle Ralston until 12:44 p.m. when Ralston wrote, “I will check his (Goodrich) availability today.”
 
FOX19 sent a follow up message to Ralston at 2:49 p.m. after getting no response from the 12:44 p.m. correspondence, asking for an answer on scheduling an interview with Chief Goodrich. At 3:58 p.m., Ralston wrote, “I don’t think an
interview is possible today, unfortunately. I can send a statement, however.”
 
Ralston did sent a statement, but it had nothing to do with what we wanted to talk with the chief about.

We’re continuing to pursue an interview with UCPD Chief Jason Goodrich.

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