Frustration grows –
RPD refuses to enforce laws against homeless –
something has to give

HOT SHEET  EDITORIAL

Reno Police Officers owe community a
“Vote of No Confidence” for Police Chief

Hiring or firing a Chief of Police should never be a question of personalities. It should be about ensuring that the office holder has the broad law enforcement experience, moral courage, and proven leadership skills to do the job. A good “Chief” must possess the strength of character to support his/her officers’ full and impartial enforcement of the law, even if that requires standing up to city officials and risking continued employment. Effective police chiefs are also committed to frequent, transparent communication with their communities as they pursue what should be their ONLY goal – to serve and protect the residents whose lives are in the Chief’s hands. 

Reno Hot Sheet’s opinion is that Reno Police Chief Jason Soto has insufficiently demonstrated these traits during his tenure and should be replaced. Under his leadership, Reno’s crime rate has continued to exceed national levels, and our national crime/safety grade is an “F”. (Source: The Reno, NV crime data is derived from the FBI’s uniform crime reports for the year of 2018.)

Soto’s ineffective leadership has allowed large-scale retail theft to reach epidemic proportions. Most importantly, the Chief has not shared a comprehensive plan for stemming the tidal wave of vagrant crime sweeping through Reno. 

At a time when our community needs to hear confident, frequent messaging from our law enforcement leader, Soto remains silent, with occasional superfluous presentations to City Council. He has given abundant proof that he is incapable of leading our community out of its growing problems with homeless-related crime.

But Reno Hot Sheet’s opinion should NOT be the determining factor in whether or not Chief Soto is replaced. Soto’s continued employment as RPD’s Chief should largely be determined by how the majority of rank-and-file officers feel about his leadership.

Numerous RPD officers have expressed to the Reno Hot Sheet their frustration with Soto’s leadership – primarily his refusal to allow them to firmly and fairly enforce our existing laws regarding criminal vagrants who oftentimes hide behind the “homeless” label. Officers have stated their disgust with what they perceive as Soto’s caving in to the timid law enforcement stance of the City Council and Mayor. Officers speaking to the Hot Sheet have said they are “embarrassed” by the Chief’s refusal to let them provide Reno residents with the safe and law-abiding community they’re capable of delivering. 

But talk is cheap. The real question is: Does Chief Soto’s lack of effective leadership bother RPD officers enough for them to deliver a vote of no-confidence from their union? This action, rather than off-the-record comments by frustrated officers, would bring to the forefront the discussion of whether Chief Soto should continue as RPD Chief of Police.

RPD receives tremendous support from our community – including paying taxes that provide officers with good salaries and generous pensions. No other single group in Reno is more trusted and relied upon to maintain our safety and quality of life than our police officers. If RPD officers do not agree with Chief Soto’s weak law enforcement practices and want stronger leadership, they need to send that message to the community with an immediate vote of no confidence.

CURRENT SITUATION

• Reno’s national grade for criminal activity is an “F”.
• Reno’s homeless-by-choice population has the highest crime rate of any demographic, and commits murder at a rate 15 TIMES greater than their part of the population. 
• Reno Police, pressured by City Council, rarely enforce the Reno Municipal Criminal Code against the homeless.  
• Reno’s homeless offenders can have their cases heard in a much more lenient Homeless Court

QUESTION: Why aren’t the Reno Police equally enforcing the City Municipal Criminal Code  with ALL citizens, including the homeless?

QOL-RENO’S SOLUTIONS FOR IMPROVING CRIME AND LAW ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS

• Reno City Council must allow the police to enforce the City Municipal Criminal Code firmly and fairly with ALL community members
• Eliminate the Homeless Court.  ONE system of justice and ONE set of consequences for EVERYONE.