Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on June 7 hosted a forum attended by members of the legislative branch, including Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, Senator Ben Kieckhefer and Assembly member Tom Roberts. This was the second Justice and Injustice panel Ford has hosted.
The forum centered on current and potential legislation to improve police accountability and training with the goal of addressing and reducing the use of excessive force.
During the hour-long discussion, Ford spoke with the participating legislators about the range of possible solutions.
The discussion mainly focused on policy concerns, potential legislation and on current affairs surrounding the recent Black Lives Matter movement protests throughout Northern and Southern Nevada. The topic of police treatment of minorities was also broached.
A major focus of the discussion was accountability, training and hiring of law enforcement officers.
The panel was asked a range of questions from the public and media–from use and funding of body cameras to overall funding and oversight of law enforcement.
The group also discussed potential legislation to deal with training and community relations, increasing diversity in law enforcement agencies and even dealing with the issue of how to respond to job applicants who have prior convictions for cannabis consumption or possession and other barriers to hiring.
Ford took a moment to note that the event was possible because of relationships he’d forged with members of both parties across different branches of government.
“I want to acknowledge the fact that this panel is brought about because of prior relationships I’ve had Jason Frierson and Nicole Cannizzaro knowing that they might be interested in having this type of conversation,” the Attorney General said. “To their credit, Senator Kieckhefer and Assemblyman Roberts reach directly out to me to have a conversation about police reform and ideas to improve relations between law enforcement and communities in which they operate and who they serve. So I wish to give a specific thanks and kudos to those two gentlemen.”
A suggestion raised by Speaker Frierson and Majority Leader Cannizzaro was that officers should attempt to be more integrated in communities they serve as opposed to living outside the boundaries of the communities within which they work.
“We should have officers that reflect their communities that they are policing, and…they should be in those communities not just for the sole purpose doing their jobs on a daily basis … and get to know the people that live there,” Cannizzaro said.
During Ford’s first Justice and Injustice panel, Frierson brought up the topic of addressing social injustice and racial inequities in policing during a special legislative session, should one be called for by Gov. Steve Sisolak to deal with the state’s financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would be advocating for addressing this timely issue in a special session,” said Assembly Speaker Frierson. “We have the budget issue. We have the coronavirus pandemic issue. … Now we have a social justice issue that has brewed up and is worthy and timely and certainly of an emergency nature.”
Attorney General Aaron Ford hosted a third Justice and Injustice panel on June 14. Each of the forums is available to view on YouTube.
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches.