The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is speaking out about the recent suspension of a Cincinnati Police Department officer who used a racist slur while on duty outside a local high school.
“No police officer should ever use a racial slur towards a person, but especially a youth on school grounds,” Celina Coming, communications director for ACLU of Ohio, tells CityBeat.
CPD officer Rose Valentino, who is white, awaits a disciplinary hearing after body camera footage caught the officer calling a Black teenaged student a “fucking n*****r” while in traffic outside of Western Hills University High School, which is part of the Cincinnati Public Schools district. Valentino made the racist slur – a derogatory remark typically used by white people against Black people – after the student seemed to flash the officer his middle finger, the CPD's internal report says. The department opened the internal investigation on July 8.
“Officer Valentino was extremely frustrated due to the traffic and individuals not taking her seriously,” the report reads.
Valentino claimed she had been “affected by her profession” and was “desensitized to racially offensive language by music and hearing people talk in the street,” the report reads. Valentino said that she does not have any racial biases that have affected her work and that she “was not classifying the whole race” with the use of the slur, according to the report.
“Unfortunately these instances allow questions about equal application of the law and racial bias amongst law enforcement to continue to rise – and for good reason. The officer’s actions of were inappropriate and inexcusable,” Coming tells CityBeat.
Over-policing may be an issue at local schoolsThis is the second time in July that the ACLU of Ohio has called out the presence of police in or around public schools in Cincinnati. A recent study by the organization recommends that the Cincinnati Public Schools system address what the ACLU calls “discipline disparities” that affects Black students the most.
The ACLU and its Campaign for Smart Justice partnered with the Young Activists Coalition to research disciplinary practices at the school system from 2021 to 2022 and said the research showed an “over-policing” of Black students as well as “racially disparate discipline” in the schools that perpetuated the school-to-prison pipeline.
“The contract between the police and the district grants CPD unilateral power over school policing, while CPS remains in the dark,” the ACLU and YAC concludes in the study.
In response to CityBeat's request for comment about the study and about Valentino's use of a slur towards a student, Cincinnati Public Schools shared the following statement:
Cincinnati Public Schools does not condone racial slurs in any circumstance. CPS' Board of Education's anti-racism vision is committed to embracing racial diversity of our students and families, and we continually strive to create a positive, equitable environment for all of our students and staff. For more information, please read our CPS School Board Anti-Racism Vision (policy 2256) at http://go.boarddocs.com/oh/cps/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=BWQNTP6182B4.
Valentino's behavior is at odds with performance reviewsAccording to Valentino's personnel file, her performance rating was classified as “exceeds standards” during last four annual performance reviews.
In Valentino’s performance review for June 22, 2021 - June 22, 2022, superiors rated her as “exceeding standards,” the second-highest overall rating. She also was recommended for a promotion to sergeant. It is unclear if the officers reviewing Valentino's performance were aware of her April use of the racist slur.
The CPD also provided the four prior years of Valentino's performance reviews to CityBeat, and those, too, rated her as “exceeding standards,” even though Valentino repeatedly was reprimanded for turning off her body camera and for twice crashing her police cruiser.
Valentino also was the subject of a 2019 lawsuit that alleged she was one of three officers who illegally detained a Black realtor and a Black prospective homebuyer during a scheduled house viewing in West Price Hill in November 2018.
And in March 2020, Valentino reportedly was convicted in an off-duty disorderly conduct case involving family members. Records show that Valentino was referred to a behavioral health center for anger management and sentenced to two years probation. Valentino’s personnel file also reportedly shows that she was reprimanded for “failure of good behavior” in 2019 for showing body camera footage from a homicide to members of her family.
Though CPD has provided footage and documents to CityBeat, the department has not directly responded to multiple requests for comment about Valentino.