Sparks is spending $15,000 to help fund a study that will try to identify and recommend the best practices for reducing crime and building trust in area law enforcement officers.
The Sparks City Council voted to spend money obtained in drug forfeiture and seizure funds for a study that will also include Reno police and the Washoe County sheriff’s office.
Back in December 2014, President Obama created a task force to the review the status of America’s law enforcement. Six areas that the task force focused on included: Building Trust and Legitimacy; Policy and Oversight; Technology and Social Media; Community Policing and Crime Reduction; Officer Training and Education; and Officer Safety and Wellness.
In May 2015, the task force released 59 recommendations for improvement in law enforcement on a local, state, and federal level with 39 of those focused on law enforcement specifically.
Since the release of the report, the Sparks Police began following the recommendations and applied them to the community when possible. Following law enforcement shooting incidents that have been regularly publicized nationwide, local community leader Angie Taylor met with law enforcement, government officials, and others to continue building the trust and legitimacy in policing.
In summer 2016, an informal working group called the 21st Century working group was formed with meetings attended by former Sparks Councilwoman Julia Ratti and Mayor Geno Martini. The group focused on three areas of human resources, training/institutional culture, and data collection and then put out a call for an outside group to come in and finish the analysis.
After speaking to several organizations, the group chose the Guinn Center to complete the analysis. Based in Las Vegas, the group picked the Guinn Center due to its experience with policy priorities, impartiality to political pressures, overall professionalism, and Nevada ties.
The Sparks Police already has great working relationships with the community, but being involved with committees like the 21st Century working group shows that the local police force is transparent and responsive to citizens’ concerns.