Report highlights RPD’s past hiring actions allowed for majority white, male police force

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:25 AM PDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 4:59 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Reno City Council heard some recommendations on improving the operations within the Reno Police Department (RPD) like diversity from a report on Community Policing in Northern Nevada.

The report conducted by the Guinn Center evaluate the RPD, Sparks Police Department and the Washoe County Sheriff's Office in five categories: Public Accountability and Transparency, Hiring and Recruitment, Training, Internal Policy Development and Human Capital and Officer Wellness.

The report was completed in 2018, but was set to be released in 2019 during a law enforcement conference, but was published online. Reno Police Chief and Acting City Manager Jason Soto said the thought was to present during a conference this year, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soto says in late 2016, Dr. Angie Taylor approached Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado regarding several

officer-involved shootings and incidents of police brutality in predominantly minority communities around the country. Soto added, they expressed a shared goal of ensuring that the region had the community policing policies and strategies in place to reduce the chances of dealing with those similar incidents happening in the area.

One of the key things the report found was the hiring practice in place by RPD allowed for the department to be mostly white, 83.3%. The report also found the department was mostly (92.9%) comprised of men, with women only making up the 7.1%.

Chief Soto told the Council Members, they identified the biographical data test was a barrier for Black and Latino candidates.

Soto also told the Council, the grip strength test removed 80-90% of female candidates.

"What we learned was a number of those applicants just couldn't squeeze the grip hard enough," said Chief Soto. "But that doesn't mean after an academy, they wouldn't have those skills necessary to be proficient in shooting a weapon or going hands on with somebody."

Soto did add the RPD did improved their immigration policy, which states law enforcement can not stop a person because of suspicious a person is in the country illegally. Soto says the department as also improved on responding to Public Records Request and making sure officers are equipped with body cameras.

Soto says there is a lot more things to achieve like more data sharing with the community, letting candidates retake the physical portion of the exam and tripling the number of times they do de-escalating training, which would require more funding.

The report also provided recommendations for the Sparks Police Department and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. To see the full report, click here.

See the video below as Soto breaks down the report.

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