In an effort to increase transparency and community involvement in the reformation of University of Cincinnati’s Police Department, 14 individuals gathered for the first Safety and Reform Community Advisory Council (CAC) Tuesday evening at the University Pavilion.
The meeting was dedicated to introductions of the 14 out of 18 members and the examination of a binder every member received.
The binder included a contact sheet to cohesively schedule meeting times, a list of guiding principles for the CAC and a physical copy of the Kroll’s Inc. report on the officer-involved shooting.
Head chairperson John West of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, who swore in and charged the grand jury on the trial of Officer Tensing’s shooting, stated the guiding principles every member was advised to sign were set in place to establish a structure to the organization.
The five guiding principles of the CAC are transparency, legitimacy, fairness, collaboration and innovation.
“We have done reform before, and have people at this table that have done that work, but how do we look for continual improvement over time?” said Robin Engel, vice president for Safety and Reform. “For me, I will not be satisfied with simply fixing what’s broken. I want to innovate and move us forward to become that model, to continually try new things and see what works best for our community.”
The document on guiding principles also affirmed each member would be given sensitive information on reviewing requests for proposals for an expert external review of the UCPD.
“We have a request for proposal for a top-to-bottom review of the UCPD, all policies and procedures,” Engel said. “We’ve been talking about it for a while … and the truth is we were waiting for this group to get together so that you could view that request for proposal before it goes out to the public.”
The CAC will be releasing requests for proposals Nov. 10 when the council reconvenes for its second meeting on the third floor of the University Pavilion. Engel and Gregory Baker, the director of police community relations, plan to give a presentation on the current structure of the UCPD.
In regards to the Krolls Inc. report, West said this will be the first step in considering changes and reviews necessary for the UCPD.
“We are going to accept the conclusions of the Kroll report; that’s our starting point,” West said. “There were some questions as to whether we were going to be reviewing the shooting – we are not going to be reviewing the shooting. I read the report and believe it to be very thorough, and I believe very accurate, but you can form your own opinions once you’ve read the 50 pages.”
Marcus Bethay, president of the African-American Alumni Affiliate, spoke out to alumni concerns for the safety and security of students on UC’s campus.
“We owe it to alumni to be transparent of what’s going on, especially with the current climate since the shooting of DuBose,” Bethay said. “With all of those things going on, it’s important as a university to communicate with alumni, not just to ask them to donate money. In my experience we’ve been lacking with that.”
President Santa Ono additionally updated the CAC on the activities of #theIRATE8, a student organization that has recently sent a list of ten demands to the University regarding issues of safety and support.
“They are an exceptional group of students,” Ono said. “We will be responding to these demands. As you can imagine some of these suggestions are complicated and will require due diligence and analysis. We have to look at each demand through the lens of what is legal and what is feasible, and have honest conversations about it… but I applaud the group for thinking through concrete steps that we can take to be a more diverse and inclusive university.”
Ono also celebrated #theIRATE8 Teach-Ins that the organization have had with several departments in UC.
“What happened on July 19was tragic for everyone, and we are saddened by what happened,” Ono said.
The Nov. 10 and Dec. 8 meetings currently scheduled are open for the public and are expected to meet in on the third floor of the University Pavilion.
“Everyone here has a constituency,” West said. “And we need to really know what their constituency is thinking and saying, and that is why we want everyone to speak out, and more importantly feel like they can speak out, because we want to know what’s going on.”