Police story

In an interview in March, Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts and Deputy Chief Mac Venzon talked about the many methods local law enforcement have at their disposal for improving protocol, training and policies.

Chief Pitts said our local law enforcement agencies look to other agencies—particularly in areas of community-oriented policing—for policies that work best to mitigate negative outcomes, like officer-involved deaths.

“The simple answer, the Reader’s Digest version of our policy is we write our policy,” Pitts said, and that includes constant re-examinations, updates and training on changes. “But we are definitely going to examine the best practices in the country. We have actually examined practices in the UK, when it comes to community policing, because they actually do a very good job of things there, that we could improve on. And so we’ll take best practices. We’ll take ideas, suggestions at many levels and make sure it fits into our philosophy of policing the community.”

Other methods for introducing new policies and ideas include Lexipol, www.lexipol.com, a national organization that regularly compares local policies to national, federal and state statues, case law, regulations and best practices, and it audits changes from a risk-management standpoint. RPD doesn’t use it, but the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office does. Pitts said the Force Science Institute, www.forcescience.org, is also an available resource. According to its website, Force Science is a think tank regarding “research and application of unbiased scientific principles and processes to determine the true nature of human behavior in high stress and deadly force encounters.”

With regard to mentally-ill people, Pitts said Reno police have three primary assets, crisis intervention training (CIT), which he estimated 70-80 percent of RPD officers have undergone, the MOST squad (see main story, page 12), and crisis intervention negotiations training (CINT), which is training in negotiating with people who are in crisis (not specifically mentally-ill people).

In addition, changes have been made at RPD based on the 2012 Department of Justice investigation into the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Deputy Chief Venzon said. That report resulted in 40 reform recommendations, from which RPD pulled three particular areas for reform of its policies. Those polices focused on the de-escalation approach, critical incident review and reality-based training.

“You take some of those recommendations, and incorporate them and a few other things,” Venzon said. “Those are the three things to me that really hit home.”

The full DOJ report is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-l9Ys3cd80fQ3d0VVlkaVJvNGNSNTlTVjF6ekJvVDduVzRz/edit?usp=sharing.