Below are excerpts from the January 7th Community Forum meeting as it pertains to the issue of the potential abolishment of the Office of the Constable for Incline Village-Crystal Bay:
Corey Solferino – Washoe County Sheriff Office
I see Commissioner Hill is on here too. I just want to give a brief update. We have some of the participants who participated in our CAB on Monday in reference to the Incline Village constable position. So just a brief update on that. At the December 14th meeting of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) there was an agenda item that addressed the possible elimination of the Incline Constable position. I was asked by my sheriff to create a proposal for the WCSO to assume the duties of the Incline Constable. I think we were able to clear up a lot of the misinformation out there. If the BCC does vote to eliminate that position I did submit a proposal to the County Manager’s Office about what it would look like for the WCSO to assume those duties.
Some of the concern in Incline Village was about the recent award of the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Public Safety grant that enabled us to restaff the Incline field office, and a concern that those positions would be dissolved into the Court and we’d be back to square one. I can assure you that isn’t the case. The proposal is for us to take over the Constable’s budget and to produce an additional Deputy Sheriff operations-trained Category 1 officer to assume those duties.
The duties that the Constable routinely performs are consistent with things we are already doing and have policies on in the valley. I had the opportunity when I was a young sergeant to supervise the Reno Justice Court and the Second District Judicial Court. I got to see how a lot of those processes work. We also have a Civil Division that serves writs, executes civil judgments, and serves temporary orders of protection (TPOs), and extended temporary protections, and new red flag legislation where (some of you may have heard of it) a legal-2000 or a mental health hold wasn’t necessarily required. But you hear these national stories of a person who was acting erratically, has firearms—and there’s a formal process by which you can go before a judge and can potentially have the person’s firearms removed. Our Civil Division for cases in our jurisdiction would serve those as would happen in Incline Village.
I want to assure the Incline community that if this were to happen, we have a plan in place, and a timeline of events June 2022 to January 2023. If they did dissolve the position, whoever the County Commissioners deem as the heir apparent would take over services in January 2023. The current Constable would serve the remainder of his elected term. I’ll be happy to answer any questions. I know there’s a lot of confusion out there and I want to put any rumors to bed. I did make a timeline of events of what would need to happen for us to take over those things. I’m happy to entertain any questions. To Chief Sommers point, Sergeant Colacurcio is world famous. We were able to do an excellent public service—a welfare check to an elderly couple that was unable to access their caretaker. So a team of our deputies under Sergeant Colacurcio led a charge to take care of snow in their driveway to give them access. And it hit national news. So I commend them for their excellent public service. And when we have time permitting, we’ll adopt a couple of fire hydrants to help the Chief and our brothers and sisters at the NLTFPD. I’ll let Sergeant Colacurcio hit on that and I’ll answer any questions you have about the Constable’s position.
Regarding the Constables Office, in addition to what Captain Solferino said, I have emailed folks who had questions about the Constable’s Office … and general direction that the Board gave to a 1st and 2nd reading to abolish the office in Incline Village. This is something that was not my initiative, and was something I wasn’t expecting to see on the Commission’s agenda. But I do want the group to know when the 1st and 2nd readings will be held: the 1st on Jan 25 and the 2nd on February 8. I voted against it, because I need to get more information about how this will work with the budget, and whether this is a good program change, and just see an overall picture that was not supplied to the community or me. I also wanted to see community outreach so the community wasn’t concerned if there was a change. And to show that there was still a commitment by Washoe County to have resources in Incline Village, and have a Court. I will say even folks who voted for the Constable’s office to be abolished still want a Court in Incline Village. It’s just, how it’s done—that’s the disagreement. So I want to see what the plan will be and what that will look like moving forward. So those are my updates. I’m happy to address questions.
Judy Miller – Incline Resident, Former CAB Chairperson
I’m not sure who is best to answer my question. But I know WCSO is starting to formulate the plan if the move is approved by the Commissioners. So will a position be added to the current staffing at the Incline’s sheriff office, or will it be handled by existing staff?
Basically if the Commissioners decide to dissolve that position, we’d absorb that budget and hire an additional deputy that would be a liaison to the Court and work independent of the substation. The Incline Justice Court is only open Monday through Thursday depending on arraignments, pleas, and what have you from 8am to 4pm. Monday it’s normally closed for administrative work. The running Court is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. With the number of cases that come through there—roughly 300 annually – we see there would be a lot of downtime. So to maximize that position we have hypothesized about a potential community liaison when the Court isn’t in session. So when there’s not a writ or order to serve and the Court is not in session, we would have that staff person out in the community.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Judge Tiras last week and get a better understanding of how he runs the Court and the different things we are able to do. It’s really quite interesting. In the time of COVID, we’ve created this hybrid both in person and virtual forum like we’re doing right here, where people are attending from all different areas. I think that’s the wave of the future for courts. It has dramatically reduced the amount of transports we’ve had to do across the entire Washoe County region. Inmates who aren’t able to bail out or are in jail are able to appear virtually before the judge. We don’t have to take them out of their housing unit and transport them to the court of jurisdiction, have them go through their hearing, and then bring them back to the jail. Those that are out of custody that might have financial considerations—the Judge was telling me how they have the ability to literally sit on a phone or at a desk at work and appear in court. I just think it’s phenomenal that we’re able to do that and somebody doesn’t have to miss a day of work when financial constraints are already bad and miss a day of work while attending court. So there are a lot of different things we can do with this position. We’re just barely scratching the surface with it. Initially my request was to see if financially based on the budget we could absorb that budget and provide a service to the Court. I think we can enhance those services merely by having a person embedded in the Court, better communication, and utilizing some of our resources out in the field to streamline the process.
Thank you for that very good clarification. I appreciate it.
Yolanda Knaak – Incline resident
I’d like to know why they are getting rid of the Constable. According to the Constable, he makes less money than the sheriff’s deputies. It’s going to cost more money. So I assumed in the beginning that they were doing this for financial savings—to save a buck. And so I want to know why they are doing it. And first of all I want to tell you I’m opposed to this. He is an elected official, and taking away an elected official doesn’t sit well with me.
I don’t think the Captain or I can address that. I have that concern as well. I wanted to see a full budget breakdown. I’m making decisions as a Commissioner on any issue. I want to see how this affects the bottom line and are better services going to be provided. The way that the Captain discussed this, there may be a possibility of that. But I haven’t seen a budget. There may be a cost savings, but I haven’t seen that. I hope the staff report will shed light at the 1st reading on the 25th so we can understand what this change is for and whether it’s a good decision for IVCB moving forward.
Margaret Martini – Incline Resident, Ordinance 7 Committee Member
I also have big concerns about eliminating an elected official. I’d like to know which law states that can be done. So between Corey and Alexis, I think an explanation is owed. And then I’d like to see the legal process of how that happens – instead of just saying, “The Commission says we can eliminate that.” I’d like to know if legally the Commissioners can do that. Thank you.
A state law allows for the Commission to remove the Constable’s office. I can find the chapter and put it in the Chat for you all to evaluate.
It’s NRS 258 that addresses the office of the constable. And there’s a provision (I believe it’s Section 3 Subsection A) that allows a township of under 700,000 to essentially start this process. So it is delineated in the Nevada Revised Statutes that gives the Board of County Commissioners the authority. You’ve seen historically how the Office of Constable in northern and central Nevada has been pretty much eliminated. The only jurisdictions that are still running Deputy Constables are in southern Nevada– Clark County. Several years ago before I was a commissioned law enforcement officer, such positions were eliminated in Washoe County. I don’t know the rationale behind it or speak to the finances. The Constable’s budget is just around a $250,000 annually for salary, benefits, and supplies. A Deputy Sheriff position is about $2000 on the top end. There’s 7 steps for deputy sheriff’s so depending upon who gets the position—we spec out cost analysis based upon a senior deputy sheriff, which is a 7-year tenured deputy. There’s about a $2000 difference between the top step of what a constable makes with their salary and benefit package and what the top Washoe County Sheriff Deputy makes. It’s about a $2000—not cost savings—a little bit more. But there might be duplications of services and things that could be absorbed that could cut the bottom line elsewhere. That would be up to additional conversations and direction with County management.
Chris Wood – Incline Village Crystal Bay Citizen Advisory Board Member
Isn’t this elected official coming up for election quite soon? And isn’t in part the timing to eliminate the position so that people putting in applications for it know that it’s not going to be there?
Yes, that’s my understanding of the timing. I know you can file for this position in March. So that’s why the timing is what it is, to make sure that folks don’t file for the position, and the County Commission eliminates it after they’ve filed. I don’t think that would work. That’s the timing and the dates of the meeting that have come up so quickly—even though I’ve expressed concern about the community giving their input.
So it’s fair to say that the term is coming to an end. So would this individual be in the position until the end?
Yes. You can’t remove him from office. The County couldn’t do that under that NRS Chapter. So he would serve out his term until January 2023.