Cincinnati Police Department Officer Rose Valentino Fired for Use of Racist Slur on Duty

Valentino will have the option to appeal the decision.

Aug 30, 2022 at 2:53 pm
click to enlarge Cincinnati Police Department officer Rose Valentino said a racist slur near a school in Western Hills, an internal police report says. - Photo: Cincinnati Police Department file photo
Photo: Cincinnati Police Department file photo
Cincinnati Police Department officer Rose Valentino said a racist slur near a school in Western Hills, an internal police report says.

City officials have approved the termination of Cincinnati Police Department Officer Rose Valentino, who was caught using a racist slur while on duty outside of Western Hills University High School in April.

"I want to be clear; this type of hateful speech will not be tolerated by anyone who works for the Cincinnati Police Department, sworn or civilian,” Interim Police Chief Teresa Theetge said in an Aug. 29 news release announcing the officer's termination.

Valentino's used the n-word while on-duty and in-uniform

Valentino, who is white, was caught on her body camera footage saying, “Fucking n******s, I fucking hate them!” while pounding her fist on the steering wheel of her cruiser. The officer also complained about being caught in traffic outside of Western Hills University High School, which is part of the Cincinnati Public Schools district.

The internal report says Valentino said the n-word after a student flashed the officer his middle finger, a claim that is only supported by Valentino's testimony. Body camera footage offers a narrow view of the area where Valentino was driving, so the student mentioned in the report is not visible.

“Officer Valentino was extremely frustrated due to the traffic and individuals not taking her seriously,” the report reads.

According to U.S. News & World Report, Western Hills University High School has an enrollment that is nearly 70% Black and more than 87% non-white or minority. The ACLU of Ohio spoke out against Valentino's actions, calling the incident "inexcusable.”

click to enlarge Western Hills High School - Photo: Google Maps
Photo: Google Maps
Western Hills High School

"As the Interim Police Chief, I must also weigh Officer Valentino’s future ability to police a diverse community that relies upon an impartial party to protect and serve," Theetge said in the Aug. 29 news release. "Officer Valentino’s clear loss of her emotions and ready use of the racial slur tarnished her ability to work with any community member."

The report says Valentino immediately sought treatment after using the slur, with Valentino saying she had been “affected by her profession” and was “desensitized to racially offensive language by music and hearing people talk in the street.”

According to the city manager's office, Valentino has the right to ask the Fraternal Order of Police, CPD's union, to file a grievance with the city to appeal the termination. It is unclear if Valentino plans to appeal the decision.

Valentino's behavior is at odds with past 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 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. The city ended up apologizing and issued a $151,000 settlement to the men.

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.

Other officers have been investigated for using a racist slur at work

Officer Kelly Drach, who is white, yelled the slur, ‘Sand n****r!” on two known occasions while working the desk in CPD’s Real Time Crime Center in November, according to an internal report provided to CityBeat.

Drach ultimately was suspended for seven days without pay, which she served in May. According to the report, District Four commander Mark Burns made the recommendation based on the fact Drach repeated the slur weeks later.

Like Valentino, Drach attributed her use of the slur to personal stress. Mayor Aftab Pureval told CityBeat that is no excuse.

"I want to be clear that this officer should have been fired, because our City should have a zero tolerance policy,” Pureval said.

City may enact a zero-tolerance policy for officers

Some city leaders are pushing for a change to City Code 25 to include a zero-tolerance rule for uses of racial or ethnic slurs: "Except when approved by a supervisor, any use of a racial or ethnic remark, slur, epithet, word or gesture requires dismissal on the first violation," the proposed policy change reads.

The rule would apply to all city employees, but it has been proposed with cops in mind. CPD officers were the main point of discussion in an Aug. 8 meeting between CPD officials and city leadership discussing the policy.

“I do not want my son to run into a cop that doesn’t treat my son like they treat me,” retired CPD officer Donald Jordan said during the meeting. “I am for a zero-tolerance policy. If you can’t come to work for 10 hours a day and be professional, you don’t deserve this job. Period.”

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