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UNR President: “Appropriate Steps Taken” After Controversial Police Traffic Stop

Date:

unr-police-stop-700x327-2505927-6368530The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) today issued a statement from President Marc Johnson announcing the conclusion of an investigation into a controversial traffic stop made by UNR police.

UNR originally posted body-cam footage on Youtube of the stop in September from one of its officers, later identified in the news media as Sgt. Dan Johnston, pulling over a group of students.

One of the students, identified as graduate student Kevin McReynolds, complained to UNR after an officer at the scene, identified as Adam Wilson, jokingly threatened to shoot McReynolds due to his size “if this goes sideways.”

UNR later deleted the video without explanation. When asked about removing the video, campus spokesperson Natalie Fry directed ThisisReno to file a public records request for the video.

UNR then redacted the faces and identifications of everyone in the video.

The redactions implied that UNR violated federal student privacy laws and a state law — NRS 289.025 — prohibiting the release of a photograph of a peace officer without the officer’s permission.

“The faces have been blurred in accordance with NRS 289.025 and student privacy interests,” Records Officer Lee Bale wrote.

The university has been besieged by racial controversies in the recent past, including one of its students attending a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a UNR police officer mocking footballer, and UNR alum, Colin Kaepernick by dressing up has him for Halloween.

UNR President Marc Johnson. Image: UNR.
UNR President Marc Johnson. Image: UNR.

UNR President Johnson’s complete statement:

The internal affairs investigation conducted by University Police Services and a separate investigation conducted by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX regarding the police traffic stop earlier in the fall have been completed. Appropriate steps have been taken following University and Nevada personnel policies. It should be noted that personnel actions are confidential by law, due to Nevada Administrative Code 284.718.

I understand and empathize with individuals who feel frustration regarding the traffic stop and its aftermath. The thoughts, suggestions and personal testimony shared by our faculty, staff and students have reinforced in my mind the importance of a safe and welcoming campus environment.

The Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office, Chief Diversity Officer and Police Services have worked to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of our reporting policy and procedures when a crime, threatening action, or threatening words are reported. Further, Chief Adam Garcia has been meeting personally with numerous student groups on campus to understand their perceptions of safety, and will continue to do so. He has also instituted comprehensive training processes called “Bias Policing Training” for all department members, with participation from respected community members. The department has embarked on a recruitment drive to further diversify the department. Training will be ongoing.

Given what has been happening in our country, I can understand why some might feel that official statements denouncing hateful words and actions are not enough. We’ve had many conversations, meetings and workshops this semester to address these events and the impact they’ve had on our campus. We will continue to hire the most diverse faculty we can, to bring the campus together for thoughtful, meaningful dialogue on the subjects of diversity and inclusion, and continue to hold trainings and workshops so that we can all better understand each other in the workplace and in the classroom.

This is our focus going forward.

– Marc Johnson, President, University of Nevada, Reno

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.

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