By Jenny Brekhus, Reno City Councilwoman
Some people have asked me my thoughts about the Trump visit to Reno on Wednesday; I thought I ought to respond. His visit does not come at a good time. Reno is in the middle of our special events season. Our police force has been working at full speed this busy summer staffing special events and we still have Burning Man and Street Vibrations to come.
I don’t think that it is widely recognized that the City of Reno has fewer officers than we did before the recession while our population has increased.
Officers are only capable to work so much overtime, and this previously unscheduled visit adds to already stretched staffing. Our financial position is fragile and additional costs will hit our budget. In addition, there have been demands on our police department this summer with several homicides and traffic fatalities.
Having President Trump visit this week also concerns me because there is a lot of unrest in American cities right now in response to Charlottesville and the President’s comments about what happened there. I was in Boston this summer over the 4th of July and saw a well-resourced big city police presence in full deployment for that joyous occasion. Crowd turnouts are hard to predict and even well-resourced Boston had its’ hands full this weekend.
Mayor Hillary Schieve called for President Trump to denounce racism and bigotry when he speaks on Wednesday. I agree with her and am shocked that our president seems to justify and give credibility to those who hold racist views. The Phoenix, Ariz. mayor is asking the President to choose another time to visit his city. In addition, there are indications that Trump may visit Phoenix to make a controversial pardon. If he takes this action just hours prior to visiting Reno, a changed dynamic could result and that could put a wrinkle into the planning and preparations.
While I do not know that there is precedent for a community to ask a POTUS to NOT come to town, and all Americans are free to travel across the USA as they wish, I am genuinely concerned about Reno hosting the President this week. Should POTUS decide to come on Wednesday, I have no lack of confidence in regional law enforcement agencies’ abilities to accommodate the visit.
Cities need to acknowledge their resource constraints, and as one in a leadership position I believe that a POTUS visit this week, on top of everything else that has gone on this busy summer, is too much. With this post I am asking others to join me in asking the POTUS to not come to Reno this week and hope that this visit might be reconsidered.
Vice President Pence was scheduled some time ago to come to the area this week. That visit is welcomed and accounted for.