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City investigation reveals ‘low morale’ and ‘low leadership’ in Reno Police Department

Additional reporting by Bob Conrad

Understaffing and the political agenda are two problems within the Reno Police Department. This is due to concerns identified by community members and his RPD employees in his two recent surveys conducted as part of the search for a new head of the department.

The survey was developed and analyzed by Ralph Andersen, an executive search firm replacing Jason Soto, who is retiring in January 2023.

An internal department survey included responses from 128 RPD personnel (officers, commanders and civilians). Employees were revealed to have mixed feelings about the department, with some citing low morale, burnout, and understaffing.

According to the survey summary, “There is a sense that police and civilian personnel are doing their best in what is perceived as inadequate leadership, a lack of resources, and a lack of respect from community and city leadership.” .reaction.

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto gives the media a tour of Reno's new public safety center, planned for 911 Kuenzli St. in Reno, Nevada. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno
Reno Police Chief Jason Soto gives media a tour of Reno’s new public safety center, scheduled for May 27, 2021 at 911 Kuenzli St. in Reno, Nevada. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

The report continues, “A majority of participants want the city to pick its next chief from outside the department, demonstrating a lack of trust in existing command staff.”

City officials said they had received 49 applications from around the country, narrowing them down to seven people who will be interviewed starting this week. City spokeswoman Kathy Harris said it was too early for the city to reveal details about the candidates, including where they are from and whether they have internal candidates.

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In the community survey, respondents rate accountability and integrity as the top qualifications for a new police chief, have good communication skills, are interested in community engagement, get the job done, and remain apolitical. Said he wants someone who can.

“According to some participants, mayors should prioritize supporting officers through ongoing social reforms while also holding them accountable,” said a summary of the community survey.

Nearly 48% of RPD employees who responded to the survey said Reno felt less safe than other nearby communities. About 20% feel that their training level is low and does not exceed minimum standards, and nearly 18% say the quality of equipment, especially technical items, is also poor.

“Civilian staff feel they are often the last to receive new equipment,” the report said.

Reno city councilors in October approved $11.5 million for RPD’s new technology. This includes body-worn cameras, tasers, fleet videos, cloud storage, virtual reality training, redaction assistants, and other software.

The findings follow RPD’s $70,000 audit and were first reported by This Is Reno, highlighting issues within the department.

That audit found that the RPD “delivered quality law enforcement services,” but called the department over a number of deficiencies that the auditor said were primarily due to a lack of personnel and resources. I called.

Auditors said the department lacked the ability to segregate data related to mental health issue calls and had “disproportionately long response times for high-priority calls.”

Internal communication was cited as a “major organizational hurdle” and the lack of security at the evidence location was noted as dangerous, but auditors noted that the RPD’s new public safety center would house evidence in the future. .

RPD’s commercial road evidence location, where RPD stores vehicles used in crimes, had auditors say the location was unsafe after being robbed.

“Buildings should be inspected for areas that may be easily trespassed with little or no force,” the auditor noted. “These security measures must be addressed immediately to avoid further robberies.”

Read the audit below

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