By Jeri Davis / This Is Reno
CARSON CITY–A newly introduced bill in the Nevada Legislature would create a statewide police reform advisory task force.
In addition to creating the task force, Assembly Bill 243 would also revise current provisions relating to how people who are younger than 21 are sentenced for crimes and would require the creation of race-blind charging systems for all Nevada prosecutorial offices to use when deciding whether criminal charges should be filed against a person.
The bill would also require the creation of race-blind charging protocols by district attorneys to be used when determining whether to file a petition alleging delinquency of a minor.
Task force details
The task force proposed in AB243 would operate under the state’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice and would have seven members:
- A sociology professor with expertise in public policy, legal scholar specializing in criminal procedure and racial profiling.
- A legal scholar studying indigenous peoples.
- A social scientist with research experience in hate groups.
- A law enforcement officer familiar with the issues related to police relations with minority communities.
- A member of a Nevada police union interested in police reform.
- A law enforcement administrator knowledgeable about police procedure and reform.
Each member would be appointed to serve a two-year term—and the task force would be required to meet at least two times per year.
Task force members would examine guidelines and reports from the United States Department of Justice and other government agencies relating to civilian oversight of law enforcement and determine best policing and police accountability practices to be implemented in Nevada.
It would also formulate statewide guidelines on police accountability and ensure that a civilian review board that represents the diversity of each community oversees every law enforcement agency in the state.
Another goal for the task force would be to determine how feasible it would be to create a unit under the Attorney General to investigate police misconduct statewide. After setting minimum standards for the collection of data relating to police operations by the state’s law enforcement agencies, the task force would make that data available to the public. The public would also be solicited to provide feedback on community relations with police in different parts of the state and asked to take part in trust-building initiatives with law enforcement.
The task force would review the recruitment practices of law enforcement agencies and propose practices to increase the recruitment of people with college educations “and [a] demonstrated commitment to fair-minding policing” as well as update training standards statewide, with an emphasis on the teaching of bias reduction and de-escalation techniques.
Lastly, the bill would look into identifying current responsibilities assigned to law enforcement agencies that could effectively be performed by different government agencies, outside of law enforcement—and how transferring some responsibilities would affect police budgets.
Public comment in support received
The bill has yet to be discussed in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. It has, however, already received public comment in support—much of it from the same individuals who supported police reform bills that passed during Nevada’s second special legislative session in August 2020.
During that session, legislators passed a ban on the use of chokeholds and rolled back protections afforded to officers during misconduct investigations in an effort to foster accountability.People across the nation, including in Nevada, have been protesting and demanding police reform for several years. These protests ramped up last year after the murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd by a police officer. At times, the protests have turned violent—including in Reno on May 30, 2020.