CINCINNATI (AP) – A University of Cincinnati police officer’s fatal shooting of a motorist he stopped over a missing front license plate has grabbed other colleges’ attention, prompting discussions and reviews of their own police policies.
News of the July 19 shooting of motorist Samuel DuBose spread quickly through the campus law enforcement community. It has become a major topic of discussion by the State Universities Law Enforcement Administrators group, which includes representatives from all of Ohio’s state universities.
“This tragedy led some of us to determine that we should review our internal practices and find out whether or not they can be improved,” said group spokesman John Peach, the public safety director at Kent State University.
Peach said Kent State found no major changes needed after its review. The police chiefs at the University of Akron and University of Toledo say they continually review policies and procedures, but were rechecking them in light of the Cincinnati shooting.
“I don’t expect any major overhauls, but we’re looking at our policies related to traffic stops and use of force with a bit more of a discerning eye,” said Jeff Newton, UT’s police chief and public safety director.
Newton said his department also is looking at procedures involving officer body cameras – ordered prior to the Cincinnati shooting and planned for use this fall – like the one that captured video expected to play a pivotal role in the criminal trial of fired UC officer Ray Tensing.
Tensing pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. His attorney says Tensing feared being dragged underneath the car as DuBose attempted to drive away.
The shooting of the unarmed black man by the white officer came during continuing increased attention nationally to how police deal with blacks, especially those killed by officers. Authorities haven’t focused on race as a factor in the shooting.
University of Akron police Chief Jim Weber said the Cincinnati shooting has been discussed in briefings with his officers.
“We’ve gone over the situation and whether it could have been handled differently or better,” Weber said.
Ohio University police Chief Andrew Powers says he expects to continue monitoring the Cincinnati case as it unfolds.
Police Chief David Perry at Florida State University, where campus officers last year fatally shot a gunman who wounded three people at a library, says reviews in the aftermath of use-of-force situations are very important for determining best practices.
“Even looking back at our shooting incident, we found ways that we could have done it better,” Perry said.
When asked if the Cincinnati shooting prompted additional reviews at FSU, Perry said it was another reminder of the importance of policy checks and discussions, but he said they had been reviewing and talking about use-of-force procedures before the Cincinnati shooting and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
The director of the National Center for Campus Public Safety thinks most campus police do a good job of regularly reviewing procedures.
“But I think that if we don’t also learn from the tragedies that happen, we are failing to do things better,” Kim Richmond said.
UC has launched formal reviews of the shooting and its police department, and the student body president says students will be watching for improvements.
“It’s just a shame that it takes a tragic situation to bring to light that there is room for improvement,” said Andrew Naab.
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