1992 Finalist
City of Reno, Nevada
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

In the mid-1980s, public support for the Police Department of Reno, Nevada had plummeted as a result of policies which, among others, set high quotas for citation issuance, ignored community input, and demonstrated reactive (as opposed to proactive) crime reduction strategies. After the double rejection by the Reno electorate in 1986 and 1987 of a referendum to expand the police force, a new initiative emerged. Community Policing is a comprehensive program aimed at improving the relationship between the Reno Police Department and the city's citizenry.

Community Policing was founded on the dual central pillars of enhanced public relations through complaint response and a shift to accident prevention. Under Community Policing, revenue targets no longer drive citation issuance, a significant break from traditional operational procedure. Now, law enforcement officers compile and analyze traffic data, resulting in an increased understanding of roadway trouble-spots in need of increased enforcement of traffic regulations. Analyses of vehicular flow data resulted in a list of the ten most accident-prone locations, and guide citation issuance.

The Community Policing program also requires that police officers personally respond to each and every complaint or "citizen service request" within three weeks of its submission. Computer systems provide oversight to ensure compliance with this "quick response" policy.

The Reno Police Department also routinely collects and analyzes a substantial amount of data, from public opinion polls to accident reports, which it circulates in both monthly and annual publications. These reports serve not only as useful data for program operators, but as progress indicators for Reno's residents. Conducting this type of analysis as well as making the resultant findings available to the public, has historically been the responsibility of the Police Department's analytical support bureau, the Quality Assurance Unit. Threatened recently in the midst of budget cuts, the Reno Police Department cites its commitment to maintain its Quality Assurance Unit as among its recent accomplishments, along with the across-the-board improvements in public relations and accident prevention realized through its Community Policing efforts.