In Unprecedented Move, UC Board Approves Policy on Policing Standards; Hires Independent Monitor to Oversee Police Reforms

The University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees approved policy on Tuesday establishing six principles of policing to guide the reform of the UC Police Department (UCPD). The Board also hired Exiger, a nationally renowned police monitoring firm with decades of experience in the criminal justice sector, to oversee the reform efforts of the UC Police Department. Exiger, who will report directly to UC’s Board of Trustees and Interim UC President Beverly J. Davenport, will serve as an external monitor for three years, beginning Nov. 1, 2016.

The six principles of policing, developed in partnership with the Safety and Reform Community Advisory Council (CAC), are

  • Transparency – UCPD will be transparent. All policies, procedures and practices must be open to and withstand public scrutiny.

  • Legitimacy – Legitimacy serves as the foundation of policing. Officer’s actions must comply with constitutional and professional standards and be procedurally just.

  • Accountability – Accountability mechanisms will be developed based on best practices and community expectations.

  • Fairness – UCPD will treat all citizens with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other differences.

  • Collaboration – UCPD will engage with internal and external stakeholders to enhance openness, equity and inclusion and strive to rebuild community trust.

  • Innovation – UCPD will implement evidence-based and data-driven practices and incorporate problem solving and community-oriented policing in all strategies. State-of-the-art training and technology will serve as the foundation for these innovative policing efforts.

“These principles establish a guide for how we expect our police officers to interact with members of our diverse community,” said UC Board Chairman Rob Richardson, Jr. “We want to be a world-class example for what policing is and how it should be done.”

“This policy – the highest order of the university – shows that the University of Cincinnati is serious about making police reforms,” said John A. West, retired judge of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas and chair of the CAC.

As the external monitor, Exiger will

  • Assess progress towards implementing the recommendations of the Final Report

  • Report on the status of reform implementation

  • Work with the UCPD to address any barriers to implementation

  • Provide clear guidelines on all steps necessary for compliance

  • Provide technical assistance to the UCPD as requested

A 12-member Exiger team was hired by the university to conduct a comprehensive review of the UC Police Department (UCPD) following the July 19, 2015, officer-involved shooting of Samuel DuBose. The firm completed a 135-page final report containing 129 findings and 276 corresponding recommendations in June, which serves as a road map for voluntary reform to transform UCPD into a national model for urban campus policing.

“Exiger’s extensive knowledge of UCPD and the Cincinnati community was crucial in selecting the firm to serve as our external monitor,” said Interim UC President Beverly J. Davenport. “Exiger’s role will hold the University of Cincinnati accountable for implementing the best practices recommended in the final report.”

 “We sought the best experts in the field to help us create a national standard for voluntary reform,” added Robin Engel, UC’s vice president for safety and reform. “The work we have been engaging in with the UC Police Department and the work will be doing over the next three years is unprecedented.”

Jeff Schlanger, managing director and president of Exiger’s Advisory Group will serve as the monitor and project lead. Schlanger, who has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and police monitoring experience, served as the deputy primary monitor for the Los Angeles Police Department consent decree and has performed significant investigations of police departments across the country.

Former Tucson Chief of Police Roberto Villaseñor will serve as the deputy monitor. He is recognized nationally as an innovative leader and progressive administrator. Villaseñor, who spent 35 years in law enforcement, was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014 to serve on the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In 2015, he was appointed to both the Department of Homeland Security Committee on Ethics and Integrity for Customs and Border Patrol and the Arizona Criminal Justice System.

Both Schlanger and Villaseñor will be assisted by an experienced team of policing experts, including those who participated in the top-to-bottom review of the UCPD.  Charles Ramsey, who also served as co-chair of President’s Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, will provide expertise for assessment compliance. Key areas of reform that will be monitored include, among others:

  • Constitutional policing

  • Policies and procedures

  • Officer recruitment

  • Accountability

  • Training

Exiger will develop a written monitoring plan within the first 90 days of monitorship to outline compliance deadlines for assessments, reviews and audits.  Requirements include quarterly status updates to the UC Board of Trustees, the CAC and the UC President’s Executive Committee. Site visits will be conducted quarterly (at minimum), and monthly progress updates will be held with university and UCPD leadership. Additionally, semi-annual progress reports and on-site semi-annual community forum updates will be given.

The university issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a monitor in September. Ten responses were received and reviewed in October by an RFP selection committee. The committee chaired by Engel and West, included representation from UC faculty, staff and students and the Cincinnati community.

In June, UC released Exiger’s final report and hired Chief of Police Anthony Carter and Assistant Chief Maris Herold.  Carter and Herold complete the university’s reform team, which includes Robin Engel, James Whalen, director of public safety, and Greg Baker, director of police community relations.

Other reform efforts include establishment of the Office of Safety and Reform’s Community Advisory Council (CAC), which played an integral part in the development of the RFP for the Exiger review and the selection process. The CAC began meeting in October of last year. That same month, all UC police officers received training on fair and impartial policing. In August of 2015, UC Police implemented an early warning system, which is used to flag patterns of officer behavior, such as use of force, for review. Direct field supervision is now in place, and contact cards have also been implemented to track the gender and race of individuals involved in policing instances with UCPD.

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