Report may shed light on WCSD Police Chief change

Reported by: Terri Hendry
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Updated: 7/07 10:25 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The News 4 On Your Side team has obtained a copy of report mentioned by Washoe County School Superintendent Pedro Martinez in an interview last week.

Martinez referenced an April 2013 report by the National Council of the Great City Schools in explaining his decision to dismiss the district's Police Chief Mike Mieras. The report is an operational review of several departments, including the district's police department.

The report lists several positives. It notes the campus and patrol officers have a high level of concern for the well-being of students and students seem to respect the officers. It also shows school principals and other employees are very highly complimentary of the school police department. It also said the department is highly regarded and trusted.

However, the report is critical of the leadership and management of the department. Among other things it said, the leadership was focused on the tactical and not the strategic needs of the district. It said this resulted in a lack of a comprehensive plan to build a security infrastructure that would ensure a safe and secure school environment in the long run.

It was also critical in saying the department lacked an overall vision and was not data-driven. Among the problems cited because of this included questioning whether the allocation of resources was adequate. For example, without incident data, it could not be determined whether officers were being used efficiently. It noted one officer was assigned to each school without regard to the number of incidents at each school.

It also questioned the organizational structure of the department. This is an area Superintendent Martinez briefly touched upon in his interview with News 4 last week. The report shows the department might be top-heavy in that the ratio of supervisors to officers was higher than many other districts, including bigger cities such as Denver, Detroit and Cincinnati.

"We have right now more police officers on a per-student basis than Clark does," Martinez said. "We have a certain mixture of policemen in school buildings versus patrolmen. I want someone to come in to have a fresh look at this."

Martinez said he didn't bring up these issues in recent budget meetings, because he felt they might be budget neutral. He added the operation of the police department contained details beyond his expertise. He said that is why he is seeking someone with this knowledge. "Which goes back to why I want someone to come in and do an objective analysis," Martinez said. "I couldn't tell you right now whether we have enough officers or whether we have too many."

"I know they do great work," Martinez added. "But I always want to make sure, frankly, I think we are right, about right on the staffing but it may be that we are not deploying or using the officers in the most efficient way."

The report was released prior to the violence at Sparks Middle School. Martinez said last week the change of leadership was not due to any particular incident, but he just wanted a fresh perspective.

News 4 tried to ask further questions of Martinez, but we were told he is on vacation this week.

To read the full report, click here. The evaluation of the police department begins on page 45.
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tonysam - 7/8/2014 8:45 AM
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It's always been the administrators who have gotten a free ride with WCSD. Martinez has the right to reorganize the district, and he has. The difference between him and predecessors is he doesn't hesitate to force administrators out of the system entirely instead of making new "jobs" for them or moving them around. This is a good thing, and it helps break up the "good old boy" network that was so bad for so long.

PaulM - 7/8/2014 8:05 AM
0 Votes
I find it amazing that the Superintendent would accept and act on the recommendations included in this report when it comes to a police department where the report acknowledges it is working, but when it comes to the capital projects area of the report where administrators refused to even participate in the survey and the report brought out major issues with that administration, they don't necessarily agree the report is accurate. Does anyone else see an issue about picking and choosing what you agree with????

valleymike - 7/8/2014 7:51 AM
0 Votes
I find it interesting that everyone on the front lines is happy with the School Police and its administration except for the upper Administration of the District. If it works, why break it.
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