Reno Police Department releases updated Use of Force Policy

Reno Police used pepper gas and concussion grenades to disperse protesters around City Hall on Saturday May 30, 2020 - photo: Brian Bahouth/the Ally

Last Saturday evening, May 30, a peaceful protest of the officer-involved death of Minnesota resident George Floyd turned ugly when several people not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter vigil smashed windows and vandalized Reno City Hall.

Rioters defaced the outside of the Reno Main Police Station and other buildings.

In response, Reno police established a barricade around City Hall and  used pepper gas and concussion grenades to disperse protesters in a standoff that lasted hours.

Hours of public comment at Wednesday’s City Council meeting was categorically critical of police actions. According to the City, the Reno City Council, City of Reno leadership, RPD and Reno Direct service center have received thousands of questions during the last few days regarding the #8CantWait project by Campaign Zero and RPD policies.

During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Reno Mayor Hillary Shieve and Interim City Manager Jason Soto promised reform.

Today, the the Reno Police Department (RPD) published an updated Use of Force Policy that largely reflects the #8CantWait guidelines. New language in the General Order document includes the following:

It is the Policy of the Reno Police Department to protect human life and human rights. Officers must use only the amount of force that is Objectively Reasonable to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the safety of the Officer and others. The Officer must only use that force which a reasonably prudent Officer would use under the same or similar circumstances. Officers are expected to apply force in accordance with departmental training.

Immediate policy updates include:

  • new guidelines on Peer Intervention and De-escalation

  • prohibiting techniques intended to restrict an individual’s airway and/or breathing

  • restrictions on shooting at or from vehicles

  • considering other options and warnings before using deadly force

  • increased supervisor oversight and responsibilities

  • increased Internal Affairs oversight and responsibilities

Graphic: Reno Police Department

In a press release, the City acknowledges that frustration exists in the community, and across the nation, and that this is a painful time for many.

“It is important for our community to know that many of our use of force practices were previously in place, but today’s action elevates these practices to policy,” Acting Reno Police Chief Tom Robinson said. “We immediately reviewed our policies, as these important conversations continue to happen in our city, region, country, and worldwide, for that matter. We are committed to transparency and community policing, and we are proud to release these use of force updates today.”

“In these challenging times, our city and the Reno Police Department have struggled with the difficult balance of the primary task at hand, which is to ensure public safety first and foremost, and answering the public’s concerns while remaining proactive and transparent,” Reno Police Chief and Acting City Manager Jason Soto said. “We appreciate your patience. The events of this week have been challenging for cities all across this nation, and Reno is no exception. But I am committed to providing a safe community that continues to hold open conversations about policy, procedure and trust with all of our community and media.”