The Cincinnati City Council's law and public safety committee voted this week to end off-campus patrols by University of Cincinnati (UC) police and to open an investigation into the school's policing practices. The decision comes a few days after Fox 19 received a respond to its freedom of information request for details on the kinds of stops UC cops made off campus.
Fox 19 found that campus police made 2,028 traffic stop so far this year—a huge spike over previous years. Cincinnati approved off-campus patrols in 2013. That year the cops made 713 stops. In 2014 they made 1,453. Of the more than 2,000 traffic stops this year, 932 involved a ticket and 223 ended with an arrest. Fox 19 also found the number of white people stopped by UC police doubled while the number of black people stopped quadrupled.
The breakdown of tickets and arrests vs. stops is peculiar too. The 2013 agreement between UC and the city permits campus police to "serious traffic offenses," meaning an offense that "jeopardizes public safety and/or constitutes a misdemeanor of the fourth degree or a higher offense." In that case, every legitimate UC stop would have to end in a ticket or an arrest.
Members of the law and public safety committee said they didn't want to accuse UC of racial profiling before an investigation, but that that's what it looked like. "It may be something that looks bad, but isn't bad," Cincinnati's police chief, Jeffrey Blackwell, told Fox 19. "But, I really think we need to look at that." The chief of UC police, Jason Goodrich, has so far refused to talk to media.
Notably there has not been a local election in Cincinnati since the city approved UC police patrolling off-campus, meaning the same politicians who voted to bring campus police into their neighborhoods have now heard sufficient outrage over the idea, in part due to the killing of Sam DuBose by a UC cop, to change their minds. That cop, Ray Tensing, has been charged with murder but through his union is demanding his job back and may eventually get it.
I argued against the idea of campus police patrolling off-campus, especially because of its effect on police-community relations, several months ago.