U of Cincinnati to pay $4.85M for alleged murder by armed campus cop

1/19/2016: The NY Times has the report here:

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to pay $4.85 million to the family of an unarmed black man who was shot to death in July by one of its police officers, a settlement that also requires the college to provide an undergraduate education to his 12 children, create a memorial to him on campus and include his family in discussions on police reform.

… Mr. DuBose, 43, was shot and killed on July 19 by Officer Ray Tensing, who pulled him over in a Cincinnati neighborhood adjacent to the campus because his car lacked a front license plate. The shooting was captured on a body camera, and Officer Tensing, who was fired from the department, faces trial on a charge of murder.

Here at UO, there’s still no formal announcement of when UOPD Chief McDermed will be replaced by new Assistant Chief of Police Chou Her. Presumably UO is delaying the announcement so as not to damage its efforts to convince the judge in the Bowl of Dicks trial to cancel the jury’s $755K award to former UOPD officer James Cleavenger. That hearing is Feb 12th.

The federal jury agreed that McDermed and other UOPD officers had violated the First Amendment by retaliating against Cleavenger for his opposition to arming the UOPD with Tazers. On which note the NYT adds:

Mr. DuBose is not the first black man to die as a result of an encounter with the University of Cincinnati police, and he will not be the first to have a memorial on campus. Kelly Brinson, 45, a psychiatric patient, and Everette Howard, 18, a student, died in 2010 and 2011 after campus officers fired stun guns at them, according to lawsuits filed by their families.

Of course campus police can be victims of shootings as well as perpetrators. It’s not clear if armed police are safer, even for themselves. One particularly sad story comes from the University of Central Florida, where a university cop was shot and killed by another officer, who was trying to control drinking at football game tailgate parties.

The green-shirted man with the gun is an undercover UCF police officer, pointing his pistol at a drunk UCF student. The student apparently grabbed the gun, it went off, and a uniformed police officer who hadn’t been told of the operation then shot and killed the undercover officer.

What happened to Richard Turkiewicz, the UCF police chief who set up this botched operation? Frances Dyke, former UO VPFA, hired him as UO’s interim Director of Public Safety. No kidding. Dyke then went on to persuade the Oregon legislature to allow UO to set up its own armed police force.

What sort of oversight does UO have for its police?

7/29/2015: Prosecutor and Trustee says university police force should be disbanded

The NYT has the sad story, here:

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge in what a prosecutor called “a senseless, asinine shooting” during a minor traffic stop. It was the first time such a charge had been leveled against an officer in the city.

The Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, Joseph T. Deters, released a much-anticipated video of the shooting of Samuel Dubose, which he described as crucial evidence that the officer, Ray Tensing, had lied about being dragged by Mr. Dubose’s car. A grand jury, Mr. Deters announced, indicted Officer Tensing on a murder charge, punishable by life in prison, and a voluntary manslaughter charge.

… Mr. Deters said that the university police force should be disbanded because policing is not what a university knows how to do, and that the campus should be patrolled by the Cincinnati Police Department. He said he had discussed the matter with the city police chief and the university.

The fate of the university is a matter close to Mr. Deters’s heart. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees there and formerly sat on its board of trustees.

“This doesn’t happen in the United States, O.K.?” he said. “People don’t get shot for a traffic stop.”

Which raises the question of what sort of oversight UO has over it’s new sworn and armed police department. After this RG Op-Ed  from John Ahlen and Juan Carlos Valle called for a UOPD review system, I got curious and made this public records request:

This is a public records request for copies of any “minutes, agendas, reports, and correspondence” involving “boards and councils that function in an advisory capacity, standing and ad hoc committees and councils” that primarily involve the UOPD. This request covers the period from 1/1/2011 to the present.

More than a month, and still no response from Dave Hubin’s Public Record’s Office. Not exactly trust inspiring.

We do know a little bit about how much it cost UO to switch from a public safety department – about $1M a year. Actually, more. It appears the UOPD blew through its budget – those new SUV’s don’t come cheap – and has had to hit up the central administration’s “Strategic Initiatives” project for new software:

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.15.11 AM

Where does the strategic initiatives money come from? The tuition revenue that Brad Shelton has clawed back from the CAS budget. (And it’s going for sports products? Really? I thought we were told a donor was waiting to pay for that.)

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18 Responses to U of Cincinnati to pay $4.85M for alleged murder by armed campus cop

  1. Good luck says:

    filing a complaint against UOPD or having your case independently reviewed:

    http://www.kezi.com/news/Op-Ed_Piece_Cites_a_Lack_of_Oversight_within_UO_Police_Department.html

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  2. 'dead duck' says:

    I have made these comments several times on UOM, on the FAC and in emails to the various presidents.
    Until the public safety officers get out of their SUV and walk a’ beat’ and talk to their constituents, they will never understand the community they are serving. Incidents described in the NYT may not be prevented but they would surely be less likely to happen if the officers had a more empathetic relationship with their community.

    Moreover, as the Public Safety officers become increasingly ‘weaponized’ they will be viewed with suspicion and fear. Is that what we need for effective on campus security??

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    • steve says:

      Let me ask you this. Do you really want them in the buildings and study areas where we spend countless hours trying to get projects done just to have the stop us when we crack open a beer, take a hit off the pipe or have a smoke. Why don’t you let them do their jobs and catch the guys who victimize us by stealing and damaging our property.

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  3. Daffy duck says:

    Agreed, perhaps as a lawyer with academic experience on multiple campuses, our new pres will quickly see the need for a transparent review and oversight structure, as well as a more face to face campus policing strategy. Frankly, we had more of the latter with the little police substation across from Starbucks than we do now with our new police force.

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  4. 'merica says:

    UOPD are as detached as the athletic department. Something about the police distance strikes me as even worse, though.

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    • The Truth says:

      “UOPD are as detached as the athletic department.”

      This is hardly surprising when the main purpose of the UOPD is to insulate the athletic department from investigation by independent law enforcement agencies.

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  5. tweetie says:

    This is a shocking and frightening situation: a young campus cop stopping someone, off campus no less, for a minor traffic offense and his first response to an escalating situation is to SHOOT and KILL the driver. Then lie about it while his body camera records it all.

    Pretty sure this couldn’t happen in Eugene. At UO. Right?

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  6. 'dead duck' says:

    Reuters [link below] has more on this subject, and on the efficacy of such forces. My point, given above, remains unchanged: If we have to have a campus policy then they should walk a ‘beat’, talk to and get to know their constituencies, minimize or even better actually remove the weapons from every day use. Intimidation with weapons is not the best way for campus Public Safety officials to do their work.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/31/us-usa-police-campus-idUSKCN0Q52N620150731

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  7. 'dead duck' says:

    update no. 3

    This is an issue that the UO Senate needs to address.

    articles questioning the value of ‘police powers’ for universities are appearing in many newspapers this weekend:

    Christian Sci Monitor:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0801/Should-campus-cops-have-the-same-authority-as-regular-police-officers

    NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/us/samuel-duboses-death-in-cincinnati-points-to-off-campus-power-of-college-police.html?ref=todayspaper

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  8. Anonymous UO Alum says:

    I’ve noticed our campus cops pulling over more and more drivers on the streets a few blocks from campus lately. UOPD seems to be expanding their off-campus patrol area. Maybe they’re bored with on-campus patrols and looking for a little more off-campus action?

    Years ago, campus security officers rode bikes and walked their beats around the campus. There was even an OPS student security patrol working the campus.

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  9. You Like That says:

    Dead Duck, maybe you went to UO when there was horse and buggy. You sure don’t live in reality.

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  10. Dr. Funkenstein says:

    I was a police officer. I can tell you from first hand experience that there are two kinds — the ones who are drawn to the job because they genuinely want to help the community and those who love the power and authority. The latter are always the most dangerous, but they are often the most zealous and eager to please their superiors. That’s why the end up hanging around until they do something stupid.

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  11. Dark Wing Duck says:

    According to the Emerald, your so-called chief in waiting is waiting anymore:

    http://www.dailyemerald.com/2016/01/19/uopd-assistant-chief-candidate-withdraws-application/

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  12. Leporello says:

    Today I watched two fully armed UOPD officers, hard at work, doing menial tasks for the Athletic Department. They pulled up with lights flashing at 15th and Agate, their huge, heavily armored monster truck towing an auxiliary hitch. They got out and began setting up their pedestrian foot traffic signs at the intersection and near the crosswalk by the Natural History Museum.

    And I wondered why we are having our highly trained, armed police using police equipment setting up foot traffic controls for the Athletic Dept. Don’t they have any actual police work to do? Aren’t there any lower skilled, lower paid university employees available to do this type of work?

    Normally I wouldn’t give this kind of thing a second thought, but yesterday I listened to UO President Michael Schill talk about “cutting the fat” and “tightening our belts” when he addressed the staff at the Knight library.

    YES, I SAID AT THE LIBRARY.

    Dr. Schill, there is no fat at the library! We’ve been cut to the bone, and we’ve spent much of the last 15 years cancelling subscriptions to academic journals, downsizing faculty and staff, leaving positions unfilled, shifting work to lower level staff, continually increasing our reliance on work-study students to to work formerly done by trained staff, and doing a host of other stop-gap measures to maintain our academic credibility.

    But here’s a clue for you, Dr. Schill. I know where the fat it! Look at the ever increasing salaries of the needlessly redundant Administrative Staff, you’ll find some there. Next, look at the bloated salaries and expenditures of the Athletic Departments and you’ll find a few belts to tighten. Finally, see if you can find a way to slim and trim down the wasteful UOPD.

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    • New Year Cat says:

      And take a look at the sheer number of Vice Presidents! That area has certainly not been cut in recent years. I think we could consolidate there, saving a lot of money which could then be used for faculty or staff salaries, which would increase UO productivity far more than just constantly adding high-paid VPs does.

      There is no sense in adding more faculty and students if you don’t also support the library system which supports them in so many ways. Dr. Schill apparently hasn’t had the time to familiarize himself with the many many initiatives the library has taken since 2000 to reinvent itself, figure out how to “do more with less”, reorganize to deal with its dwindling staff and growing number of responsibilities, etc. It has amazingly done “more” than ever to support the UO despite loss of staff and money. If it too suffers a 2% cut it will probably be down to the “figure out how to do less” part of that.

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  13. frankie says:

    Leopolello, I don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for you. People here should know they can’t take you seriously. Fully armed police officers in a monster truck? Those were security officers, armed with merely flashlights and the “monster truck” is a Ford F150 pickup.

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