Nevada National Guard provides support for Reno police

Members of the Nevada National Guard 609th Combat Construction Batallion stand watch on the Reno Main Police Station on June 6, 2020 - photo: Brian Bahouth/The Ally

Soldiers from the Nevada National Guard 609th Combat Construction Battalion based in Fallon have taken up position around the Reno Main Police Station. The station was vandalized during rioting last Saturday evening. According to soldiers on the ground, they closed and secured 2nd Street in front of the station on Friday evening.

Lieutenant Colonel Mickey Kirschenbaum is spokesperson for the Nevada National Guard and said in a phone conversation that the soldiers are not going to interact with the public or make arrests. Their mission is, “critical infrastructure defense.”

According to Lt. Col. Kirschenbaum, the soldiers are working in support of the police. The National Guard presence enables more officers to be out in town and not tied to guarding the station.

In addition to ongoing support for COVID-19 response, Nevada National Guard troops have been variously deployed in the Reno area since Governor Steve Sisolak activated the units last Saturday in response to rioting at Reno City Hall.

A soldier who identified himself as Lieutenant Fred was at the intersection of 2nd and Kuenzli streets this morning. Even though the  609th Combat Construction Battalion is based out of Fallon, members of the outfit are from Reno, Sparks and across northern Nevada. The Nevada National Guard is made up of Nevadans. Lieutenant Fred was sure to say that they are not there in a combat role.

“We are a combat engineering unit, but we’re not out here in that capacity at all. We’re completely out here just supporting local law enforcement and the citizens.”

A City of Reno spokesperson deferred comment to the Police Department. As of this writing, the Reno Police Department has not responded to phone and email requests.

To his knowledge, Lt. Col. Kirschenbaum said the troops around the police station are not a response to an imminent threat. He said the troops are expected to be in place over the weekend.