Cincinnati police officer fired after using racial slur outside CPS school

Interim Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge said the officer’s behavior “damages the public’s trust we have worked so hard to build over the past 20 years.”
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Cincinnati police officer who allegedly used a racial slur following an incident with a teenager outside Western Hills University High School has been fired, according to the city manager’s office.

Former CPD District Three Officer Rose Valentino used the slur on April 5, according to bodycam and dashcam videos released last month as part of an internal CPD investigation.

Interim Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge reviewed and approved of the report’s findings the day it was released. Theetge then recommended that Valentino be terminated, and interim City Manager John Curp’s office approved that recommendation on Monday.

Theetge issued a statement in which she explained her decision to recommend the officer’s termination, saying her paramount concern was the community’s trust in law enforcement.

“Officer Valentino’s agitated demeanor and the statement she made while on duty is not only inexcusable and incredibly hurtful, but it damages the public’s trust we have worked so hard to build over the past 20 years, since the inception of the Collaborative Agreement,” she said.

Theetge also cited concerns about Valentino’s future ability be impartial policing a diverse community. “Officer Valentino’s clear loss of her emotions and ready use of the racial slur tarnished her ability to work with any community member or member of the Cincinnati Police Department hurt by her hateful words,” she said. “This significantly reduces, if not eliminates, Officer Valentino’s ability to be a productive member of the police department. I want to be clear; this type of hateful speech will not be tolerated by anyone who works for the Cincinnati Police Department, sworn or civilian.”

The Fraternal Order of Police can choose to file a grievance on City-issued discipline against an officer. FOD President Dan Hils has not yet commented on the situation as of this writing.

Per the city manager’s office, the nature of this case could accelerate such a grievance filing to the mediation stage, bypassing its presentation to the chief of police and human resources director. If no compromise is reached after mediation, the grievance could then proceed to a panel of three neutral arbiters. The arbiters’ decision would be binding.

Valentino’s police powers had been suspended as the disciplinary hearing process played out.

PREVIOUSLY | Cincinnati police officer used ‘n-word’ during incident outside CPS school, report finds

According to the CPD report, Valentino, 40, reacted to a line of cars stopped outside the school building. While in her marked CPD vehicle, she allegedly became angry when the cars did not move after she activated her lights and siren. She allegedly yelled over her air horn, “You got to move, f*****g ridiculous. F*****g a*****s.”

Valentino then rolled down her window and told a Black woman in one of the cars, “You need to move,” according to the report. At that time, a Black teenager who appeared to be a CPS student walked past and raised his middle finger at the officer, which “infuriated” her, the report says.

After rolling up the window, according to the report, Valentino said, “Oh I hate them so much. I hate this f*****g world. F*****g n*****s, I f***ing hate them.” The report notes she punctuated the remark by punching the steering wheel.

Valentino deactivated her bodycam moments later. Before she deactivated the dashcam, the report notes she can be heard saying quietly, “And there it is...”

Valentino allegedly admitted to using the slur in an interview with investigators, and the report says the statement is audible in the bodycam file.

She told investigators she was extremely frustrated due to traffic and the fact that she had not been taken seriously.

The report quotes her as telling investigators, “This is a hard job, and I was getting to a point where I was really being affected by it. I have been on for fourteen years.”

The officer argued she had been desensitized by music and hearing people talk on the street, according to the report. It summarizes her interview statements on the matter as follows: ‘Constant exposure has allowed this slur to slip into Officer Valentino’s vernacular. She was surprised that it came out in this context, and its use did not represent who Officer Valentino is as a person or how she feels about African Americans.”

Valentino also acknowledged in the interview she was not mentally healthy, according to the report. She allegedly denied having racial biases that have affected her work and argued the incident was an isolated “mental episode.” She said she was “not classifying the whole race with her statement,” according to the report.

The report found Valentino’s alleged actions are in violation of CPD rules prohibiting verbal or written expression of any prejudice or offensive comments concerning characteristics including race.

She graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She became a police officer in December 2008.

The officer received an official reprimand in February 2019 for allegedly using her cellphone at the Hollywood Casino to show her family bodycam footage from a homicide scene.

She received a second official reprimand in December 2020 following an incident in which she was allegedly involved in a violent argument with her sister and brother-in-law over a card game. Valentino allegedly punched both of them before using an umbrella to batter her brother-in-law’s car.

Valentino was named in a 2019 federal lawsuit after a realtor and a prospective buyer claimed that she and two other CPD officers detained them on a report of “two Black males” forcing open the front door of a home. The city settled the lawsuit for $151,000.

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