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Public safety in Incline Village: Washoe County Sheriff candidates have different views

The crime rate in Incline Village has been falling for the past several years, but Chuck Allen, a candidate for sheriff in the November election, says that fact is misleading. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports.

Eight years ago, the sheriff’s office implemented a crime fighting program, in which analysts use data to help officers prevent crime. For example, because the data shows more people tend to leave their cars unlocked in the summer to go on outings, like hikes, car burglaries are more common then. Knowing this allows the agency to raise public awareness before thefts actually happen.

The agency credits this program for a 40 percent reduction in calls from people reporting crimes in Incline Village, but Chuck Allen, candidate for sheriff, says that decrease could instead be due to fewer personnel.

“You are going to see a dramatic reduction in crimes investigated because you don’t have the deputies out there proactively investigating crime,” Allen says.

Allen’s opponent, Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek, disagrees saying that the lower crime rate is not a result of fewer personnel.

“The staffing levels on the street on a per-shift basis was the same then as it is now,” Kuzanek says. “The staffing level hasn’t changed.”

Kuzanek says there are 15 deputies currently assigned to Incline Village. Before recent budget cuts, there were 18 in the area. No matter what, there have always been two deputies on duty at all times.

But, two is not always enough, according to Chuck Allen, who’s also a media spokesman for the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“From a public safety perspective, if you’ve got two deputies currently working one shift, and they both get tied up with an arrest, or another call for service, that doesn’t leave much assistance to the community,” Allen says.

According to Allen, right now a call for back-up could take up to half an hour because another deputy would be responding from the valley.

This is another area of contention between the two candidates because Kuzanek says help is actually much closer.

“Our partners over in Placer County can come over the border and help us out," Kuzanek says. "Additionally, there are Nevada Highway Patrol officers that are working out of our sub-station in Incline Village that can assist us.”

Voters will decide who will become Washoe County’s next sheriff in November.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.