The James Hoff Peace Officers Memorial at Idlewild Park. Image: Ty O'Neil.
The James Hoff Peace Officers Memorial at Idlewild Park. Image: Ty O’Neil.

Solutions Season 2

(Looking for season 1, focused on homelessness in the Reno area? The page has moved to here.)

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What unfolds in this podcast is the story of how many lives were irreversibly ruined because of grave errors made by numerous people — from cocky, maladjusted youth to the highest levels of the Reno Police Department and state government. It is a story that reverberates through the consciousness of the Northern Nevada community to this day.

Credits

  • Samuel Sheridan, interning from the University of Nevada, Reno, gathered audio, assisted with interview recording, conducted research, and helped track down sources for interviews
  • Ty O’Neil took the gorgeous cover photograph of the James Hoff Peace Officers Memorial
  • Darcy Lenardson diligently and patiently scheduled interviews
  • Victoria Janicke reported and recorded audio from Nevada State Prison

Funding

Solutions Season 2 is supported by the Impact-Designed Investigative Grant from the Local Independent Online News Publishers association and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

James Hoff as a canine officer.
James Hoff as a canine officer.

Episode 2

Reno Police Officer James Hoff died in the line of duty. It was an undercover drug deal that went fatally wrong. But his legacy continues to be honored through today.

Jimmy’s murder continues to draw raw emotion. Though not even alive when Hoff’s death occurred, the officer’s legacy as a fallen officer resonates through today to the men and women of the Reno Police Department.

The James D. Hoff Peace Officers memorial honors the risks law enforcement make each and every day. While law enforcement’s role in recent years has come under increasing scrutiny, the life-and-death scenarios faced by police remain.

The role police had in Hoff’s killing, however, remains unsettled.

Episode 1

John Steven Olausen arrest photo, 1979.
John Steven Olausen arrest photo, 1979.

Reno was known as country’s gaming capital, but it was gradually becoming dwarfed by its southern Nevada counterpart, Las Vegas, as a gambling destination. Just about anyone could move to Reno and find work that pays enough to get by — as a dishwasher, a dealer, a car salesman, or a cab driver. It was this lure for fast, easy money that drew one young man to Reno in 1979.

Just out of high school, but without a diploma, John Steven Olausen struggled to learn. In fact, he had a learning disability, dyslexia, that hampered his ability to understand the basics. He was also easily influenced. His friends said he was a Boy Scout, willing to do anything for anyone at any time.

It was these traits that would land him on death row within a year of coming to Reno, Nevada in 1979.

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