A complaint was filed today against Reno Police Officer Ryan Gott for comments recently posted on Facebook. The person Gott responded to called his comments a “veiled threat.”
Lisa Lee, who runs the Foundation for Recovery, a mental health and substance abuse nonprofit in Sparks, said she filed an internal affairs complaint against Gott after he responded to her online comment praising Governor Steve Sisolak’s statements last night on reopening Nevada in the wake of COVID-19.
Sisolak said he was following the direction from the White House for reopening the state. Lee, in turn, said she thought Sisolak was being thoughtful.
“Lisa Lee you are dumber than most thought… and THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING. The numbers along with Sisolak don’t add up. The curve has been flat for weeks in NV. This state needs to reopen at least partially. This state is dying and it’s morons like you keeping it that way. Load up as many homeless as you can and leave the state.”
Lee said the comment was a veiled threat and that she has never encountered him before.
“It sounds like he is familiar with the work I do. This comment is unprofessional and unbecoming of a public servant and feels threatening and an abuse of power to insinuate to a tax paying citizen to ‘leave the state,'” Lee said. “Further, his comment about people experiencing homelessness feels dangerous. To compound the irony of his statement, I am a doctorate student in public health.”
Gott posted a second comment saying he stands by his remarks. His comments appear to have been since deleted. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. He is listed on RPD’s website as a Community Action Officer whose mission is “to reduce repeat calls for service which are a drain on patrol resources by long term problem solving solutions and techniques…”
RPD’s Travis Warren said the department is considering this a personnel matter.
“This is a personnel matter and I am addressing it,” said Police Chief Jason Soto. “These comments do not represent, or reflect the views of the Reno Police Department. I will not comment on personnel matters.”
The Reno Police Department’s social media policy, while acknowledging employee’s First Amendment rights, qualifies employee speech.
“Employees are free to express themselves as private citizens in matters of public concern to the degree that their speech does not … undermine the department’s relationship with the community,” the policy states.
Gott in 2010 received a medal of meritorious service for work on a fire in 2009. Last year he received an award for helping to recover $65,000 in stolen goods. That’s the award pictured.
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 from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.