A vice president hired to oversee University of Cincinnati campus safety promises to work closely with the Cincinnati Police Department to deter off-campus shootings.

UC President Santa Ono appointed Robin Engel as vice president of safety and reformation to review UC Police Department’s training, supervision and policies in response to the fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose July 19.

Engel, formerly the director of UC’s Institute of Crime Science, is not responsible for the daily operations of UCPD. Instead, she will review the actions of campus police and report directly to Ono.

As a criminal science consultant, Engel has dealt with UCPD many times and accumulated years of experience working both nationally and internationally on data-driven police practice and police accountability.

She remains the principle investigator for the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence — a group working toward cultural change to improve police-community relations and reduce violence — and wants to build lasting changes at UCPD.

“We need to build foundations right here in the short term that will last in the long term,” Engel said after her appointment as vice president Aug. 4. “Our role here now at the university is to talk about what will this [reform] look like, not just in six months when we start checking the boxes, but what it looks like in six years, and then what it looks like again in a couple of decades.”

Additionally, Engel is pushing for more transparency with UCPD data and wants to provide a forum so that diverse voices and perspectives may be heard.

Meetings between Engel and a multitude of Cincinnati pastors and community leaders are already underway.  Engel also plans to incorporate student leadership and groups into future safety discussions.

Ono hired two directors to assist Engel in her new role. Ono appointed former CPD Lieutenant Colonel James Whalen as director of public safety and Cincinnati Initiative Executive Director S. Gregory Baker as director of police community relations.

“In order for change to be sustainable, it has to be developed with all relevant perspectives considered,” Whalen said. “The formulation of a strong team will ensure the breadth of perspective necessary for success.”

Baker is also supportive of the team and believes that they will have effective communication having worked with each other under the Cincinnati Initiative and other projects. 

“The relationships of trust have already been established so it’ll be a smooth dialogue that when we need something from each other its just a matter of making a telephone call,” Baker said.

Both Whalen and Baker will report to Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance Robert Ambach, but will work in collaboration with Engel.

Engel looks forward to working with Whalen and Baker.

“I will hold them accountable, I will bug them, I will be relentless, but I will also work in a team, and I think that’s what this city needs, and what this University needs,” Engel said.