A city council in Cincinnati, Ohio has voted to bar the University of Cincinnati Police Department (UCPD) from patrolling city streets.
News station FOX19 reports that the move stems from an ongoing investigation into the college police department’s practices regarding traffic stops.
According to a report compiled by the University of Cincinnati and obtained by FOX19, the Cincinnati Police Department and city officials entered an agreement with UCPD in December 2013. That agreement allowed campus officers to patrol some police districts within the city.
The agreement stipulates that city traffic stops by campus cops were limited to “serious traffic offenses” only — the type that “jeopardizes public safety,” according to the agreement.
Questions about UCPD’s handling of traffic stops have become ever more pertinent in light of the indictment of former UCPD officer Ray Tensing, who faces murder charges for fatally shooting an unarmed man during a traffic stop last month.
Tensing pulled over 43-year-old Samuel Dubose for driving without a front licence plate July 19. The encounter escalated, and as Dubose tried to drive away, Tensing shot him in the head, killing him.
Tensing has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The report detailing UCPD’s traffic stops shows a dramatically increasing number of stops made by campus officers between 2013 and 2015.
More than 2,000 stops were initiated so far this year — a sizable jump over 2014 (1,453), and nearly three times as many as in 2013 (713). Tickets were issued in about half of all cases each year.
Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell addressed the campus police department’s traffic stops in a meeting with the city’s Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday. He acknowledged the focus of campus police had “gradually turned to traffic enforcement,” and said “that’s something that needs to stop.”
In the case of UCPD, officials have also raised concerns about potential racial disparities surrounding the traffic stops. FOX19 reports that the number of black people who encountered UCPD officers “quadrupled from 633 in all of 2013 to 2,354 from January 1, 2015 to July 27, 2015.”
City Councilman Kevin Flynn expressed dismay at those numbers during a FOX19 interview this week: “How can that be? In a limited area. We’re not even talking all of the city of Cincinnati.”
Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell agreed, saying “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.”
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