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University of Cincinnati takes step toward police reform

The University of Cincinnati took a step toward reforming its police department, one week after officer Ray Tensing was indicted in the killing of Sam DuBose.

The University of Cincinnati on Wednesday appointed criminal justice scholar Robin Engel to coordinate external investigations of its police department, one week after a University of Cincinnati police officer was charged with murder.

UCPD officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Sam DuBose during a routine traffic stop in early July. Last week, Hamilton Country Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters announced the indictment against Tensing and released body-camera footage of the fatal shooting.

RELATED: Officer charged with murder of Sam DuBose bailed out

Deters was unsparing in his criticism of the unaccredited police department that gave Tensing a badge and firearm.

“They’re not cops, and we have a great police department in Cincinnati,” Deters said of the university’s police force, before suggesting that the department should be effectively dissolved.

On Wednesday, the University of Cincinnati responded by appointing Engel to the new position of vice president for safety and reform, where she will help coordinate the multiple external investigations of the department launched in the wake of the indictment.

“I am fully committed to making any needed changes to our UC Police Department. We will leave no stone unturned and wherever the facts take us, we will make changes as warranted,” University President Santa J. Ono said in a press release. “We want to create a university police department that is a model for the nation, and Robin Engel is the best person to lead us forward in this effort.”

Engel is the professor and director of the Institute of Crime Science, where she has conducted research into the effects of racial profiling and strategies for violence reduction.

“My timeline is ambitious,” Engel said in a statement. “This effort will involve the coordination and input from many stakeholders in our community, listening and building relationships and, most importantly, trust. Part of rebuilding community trust is by creating police legitimacy. We will focus on collaborations in campus and municipal policing guided by data-driven practices that are effective, fair and equitable.”

While violent crime on college campuses is on the decline, the number of armed officers patrolling campuses has steadily increased. Seventy-five percent of four-year colleges and universities with 2,500 students or more operated full law-enforcement agencies in 2012, up from 68% in 2005, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice statistics.