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Community activists: Video of Cincinnati officer using racial slur while on duty is disturbing

Officer Rose Valentino's police powers have removed
Body cam footage of Rose Valentino
Posted at 7:44 PM, Jul 26, 2022

CINCINNATI — Community activists are concerned after body and dashboard camera video captured a Cincinnati police officer using a racial slur while on duty April 5. Officer Rose Valentino, a 14-year CPD veteran, used the n-word in reference to a Black teen who she said flipped her off, according to an internal report.

“When you use a racial slur like that and you're paid by taxpayers you know there’s no place for that in policing,” said NAACP President Joe Mallory.

Mallory isn’t the only one who was stunned.

“It’s extremely surprising," activist Iris Roley said. "It’s surprising that this is where we are that people who are in a profession, and it’s not just police — anyone who works for the city has an opportunity to believe that they can use racial slurs."

One of the architects behind the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, Roley said she found the way Valentino reacted to the teen sickening.

“This should not be what we allow," Roley said. "It should not be the standard of policing in the city of Cincinnati or the perception that this is acceptable. It is unacceptable."

Activist Tea’irea Powell said she was disturbed by the video.

“This was a student, so like this is how you feel about a child, regardless of their race, you feel like this about a child, which says a lot about you and I think the tone of it all is just disgusting,” Powell said. “And watching the video, the one thing that stuck out to me was how she emphasized how she said, 'I hate them.'"

Mallory said he agreed the kind of “aggression and vitriol” Valentino used was disturbing. He also noted it was also worrisome how easily she said the word.

“We expect, we have an expectation as citizens that we have a bias-free police force and that they police fair and impartially and they treat everyone with dignity and respect," Mallory said. "And I have some concern about this particular officer carrying a gun and a badge out on the street with the way she feels toward a specific race of people."

He said the incident will further strain the relationship between the police and the community.

“Something like this kind of deteriorates and tears that fabric of trust you know from the police side with the community and that there’s always that bit of mistrust but hearing that what she said that it just confirms for a lot of people that that’s the way some of them feel,” he said.

“It does damage; although this is one particular officer that’s saying this, unfortunately, it represents the whole police department,” Powell said.

They all said Valentino should be off the streets.

“There’s no room at all for her on the Cincinnati police force," Powell said. "I also think the community and police (need to) make sure that we continue to try and make those relationships because this did do a lot of damage."

While police departments have implicit bias training, Mallory said he doesn't know if people can train the bias out of someone's heart. Roley agreed.

"There is no training that can rid one of racist behavior. ... People see this as an offense and it’s a precursor to treatment," Roley said. "If you can say that loud based on a flipping of a finger, so let's just start with the action that got the reaction, then maybe you’re not suitable to be in that uniform and do that job."

In a statement, Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils said "no Cincinnati Police Officer should use the N-word or any other racial slur and anyone who does is wrong."

"The Fraternal Order of Police represents every Cincinnati Police Officer when they’re involved in the disciplinary process as outlined in our collective bargaining agreement," Hils said. "Every officer is entitled to a fair hearing and that’s what we’ll ensure happens.”

Hils said Valentino will have a department-level hearing that will likely take place in the coming weeks. He said a CPD police captain will hear both sides and then write a recommendation to the interim police chief.

According to police department policy, if the chief wants Valentino suspended, demoted or fired, the city manager needs to sign off.