City Hears Whitaker Park Residents! RPD removes all vagrant camps (but one?) Jan. 26 citizens arrest activity cancelled
After ignoring repeated pleas from Whitaker Park residents for over a year, Reno Police partially enforced the law on Jan. 22, removing 13 of the park’s 14 illegal vagrant camps. The one remaining tent has been camped illegally in the park for almost a year. RPD offered no explanation for why it wasn’t removed as it too is in violation of the Reno Municipal Code. RPD’s puzzling act of removing 93% of the illegal vagrant camps is similar to what has happened at other city parks where illegal camps have been removed.
RPD has temporarily placated many residents by forcing vagrants to remove their illegal camps, but with rare exceptions, vagrants are not issued tickets for their lawbreaking.
Without consequences for camping illegally, squatters have returned to the same parks, with RPD’s apparent approval, as the department refuses to keep the parks cleared of returning and new squatters. RPD’s refusal to keep the previously cleaned parks cleared of illegal camps is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Oops! RPD did it AGAIN at Paradise Park On the same day (Jan. 22) that RPD did an incomplete job of enforcing the law and removing illegal vagrant camps at Whitaker Park, police from Sparks removed ALL of the 25 vagrant camps from the Sparks Drive-In Theater property. Where did some of the Sparks illegal squatters relocate? Approximately 100 feet across the street to Reno’s Paradise Park. RPD did not prevent Sparks vagrants from migrating into Reno.
MIA – Parks and Recreation Department Director Pollution of the Truckee River, murders, car break-ins, rapes, fires, sex trafficking, drug dealing, assaults, and robberies are ALL crimes that have recently occurred in some of Reno’s public parks. The director of the Parks and Recreation Department has not publicly acknowledged the problem, nor has she said what she and her department are doing to help RPD resolve it. The Reno Hot Sheet offers the Parks and Rec Department an open space in this newsletter for addressing the community about park squatters.
MIA – City Manager Reno City Manager Sabra Newby is Reno’s top paid administrator and Chief Executive. She has ultimate responsibility for overseeing the operation of the entire city government. Ms. Newby has been silent regarding the uncontrolled and escalating problems with vagrant-related crime and homeless issues. She has offered no explanation to the public regarding what her office is doing to address the issue.
Furthermore, QOL-Reno has made repeated requests to Ms. Newby, beginning in April, 2019, asking that she address the Reno Fire Department’s dangerous drug/alcohol contract policy that allows firefighters to be under the influence of alcohol, meth, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and other illegal drugs in varying amounts from the DUI-limit up to 5 times the DUI limit, and still remain on the job to operate equipment. Newby has not publicly indicated opposition to the policy, but has repeatedly stated since April, 2019 that the RFD “contract is under negotiation,” and that she would “know something soon.”
Newby has also not provided the public with blood test results for the drivers of the two RFD fire trucks involved in serious accidents during the Fall of 2019. Blood tests are required by law in accidents involving the RFD.
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.
WHO ELSE IS SPEAKING OUT TO QOL-RENO?
• A riverfront bike rider: “… last summer riding home at night (we no longer ride on the river path at night), vagrants were shooting [with guns] across the river and path from their camps. We rode as fast as we could to get out of range of their fire. Their camps have been there for well over one year.”
• A Reno service club who is offering a scholarship contest to a local high school: “Our club members went to the school to offer student scholarship money for an academic contest. We wanted to talk to teachers and enlist their help, but the school secretary would not let us past the school office for “security” reasons.” Explanation: WCSD student behavior is so out of control that the Superintendent allows NO one – including parents and the School Board to make unannounced school visits – for fear of seeing firsthand the truth about Washoe County’s failing schools.
• A commercial property manager who oversees a local strip mall: “We have about 20 illegal vagrants camping off the edge of our parking lot on our private property. They use drugs during the day and intimidate customers. They try to break into the local businesses and drive away legitimate customers. At night, the vagrants break into cars in our parking lot to steal money for more drugs. The next day, it starts all over again, and RPD refuses to do anything. The vagrants just laugh and ignore me when I tell them to leave. An RPD officer told the property manager that RPD will not enforce the law because “Hillary (Mayor Hillary Schieve) changed our policy, so we can’t arrest them.” (Note: Reno’s Mayor has ZERO legal authority to unilaterally change ANY law or policy; either the RPD officer was not telling the truth, or Reno’s Mayor is in serious violation of the law).
The QOL-RENO HOMELESS PREMISE & CHALLENGE
PREMISE: The city of Reno – right now – has an abundance of food, employment, affordable housing, and mental health treatment for ANYONE who truly wants to get off the streets. There is NO need for the City Council to spend one more taxpayer dollar for “homeless services.” To do so is wasting taxpayers’ money and making the homeless problem WORSE. CHALLENGE: QOL-Reno can PROVE that not ONE of the 1,000+ people chronically living on Reno’s streets are legitimately “homeless,” in other words, without the present means to get employed and off the street. QOL-Reno can get ANY of them housed and employed within a few days, IF the individual is willing to comply with the following:
• Be clean and sober • Be willing to work • Be willing to obey the law • Be willing to accept mental health treatment (if needed)
ATTENTION ALL PARENTS of SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN: • WCSD, along with all of Nevada’s public schools, rank among the worst in the nation year after year. • QOL-Reno’s anonymous survey of WCSD teachers confirmed that student discipline was out of control, and strong moral values were greatly lacking.
School leaders repeatedly deny the facts about these situations. Why would any parent keep their child enrolled in WCSD? Contact QOL-Reno for a wide variety of education options for your child.
QOL-RENO PRESENTATIONS AVAILABLE: “RENO’S HOMELESS SITUATION: THE REAL FACTS” Schedule our eye-opening presentation for any size group. Speaker: Tim McGivney, Reno former homeless man and drug addict. Contact QOL-Reno to schedule a presentation.
POLICE, CITY WORKERS, AND WCSD TEACHERS: The Community needs you to speak up! YOU know the firsthand truth about how our city and schools are being run. The community needs to know about it. Contact QOL-Reno in complete anonymity: (775) 685-8200.
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