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Interim Reno Police Chief Says He's Considering Body Cameras

A detective and former president of the local police union has been named the interim chief of Reno Police. Jason Soto steps into that role Friday when Chief Steve Pitts retires. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Soto has served the department for 18 years, working closely with Pitts and spending several of those years as chief polygraph examiner.

City Manager Andrew Clinger says that work, along with Soto's experience leading the union, has uniquely prepared him to take the reigns during this time of transition.

"Council and myself felt that it was very important that we had someone as an interim chief who had a strong connection with the rank and file in the Reno Police Department," Clinger said at a press conference late Thursday. "Jason brings that to this role."

A top priority for Soto will be focusing on community-oriented policing by promoting transparency and accountability. He says that might include the use of body cameras, an idea he's looking into now.

"We're kind of following legislature and seeing where they're going," Soto explained, "because that's going to give us some guidelines as to how we want to look at body cameras here at Reno Police Department, so it's something that we've definitely looked at. I met with the Department of Justice probably about two weeks ago to have discussions on that and how to best move forward."

Assembly Bill 162 would require law enforcement officers in Nevada to wear body cameras, a change that could cost millions. After an initial hearing, the bill has been amended, requiring that agencies develop specific rules, like when to record and how to protect the privacy of victims. That bill passed the Assembly Committee for Government Affairs last week and a similar bill is under discussion in a senate committee.

As for a permanent chief of police for the city, that hiring search will begin right away.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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