Nevada School Police Officers May Get Expanded Jurisdiction

by RILEY SNYDER

School police officers in Washoe and Clark Counties could play a more active role in public safety if a Nevada Assembly bill passes this session.

Assembly Bill 103, which was introduced today in the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs, would remove the jurisdiction restrictions placed on school police officers in Washoe and Clark counties, giving them classification as full-fledged police officers. Most of the questions regarding AB 103 came from a proposed repeal of the jurisdiction guidelines in the Nevada Revised Statues.

Though bill supporters, such as Clark County School District Police Officer’s Association spokesman, Philip Gervasi, said officers’ focus would remain on school-based safety, several members of the committee expressed doubts. Assemblyman Elliot Anderson said he did not want school officers venturing too far off school grounds.

“I want to keep school police in school grounds,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to get them to far away from campus if there are local concerns.”

The bill, which was co-sponsored by Republican Michele Fiore and Democrats Skip Daly, Richard Carrillo and Andrew Martin, attracted a rather significant number of both supporters and opponents who testified during the 90-minute hearing.

Danny Thompson, a former Nevada Assemblyman and current lobbyist for Nevada State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said the arbitrary distinctions between school police and regular police are ridiculous.

“Say I’m a police officer, and I’m driving from Rancho High School in North Las Vegas to Basic High School in Henderson,” Thompson said. “I’m outside of my jurisdiction. I’m driving a police car. I have a gun. I have a badge. Someone expects I’m going to do something. But if I do, I’m putting my house; I’m putting everything on the line … That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life. If you’ve got a badge, if you’ve got a gun, you’re a cop.”

Both Clark and Washoe school district police receive and are hired based upon full, category one police training, even though they are only required by state law to have category two training.

Clark County School District lobbyist, Brian Daw, said the district opposes the bill. Daw said having officers absent from schools would have a negative impact. Washoe County School District spokeswoman Victoria Campbell said the district has no opinion yet, as the Board of Trustees has not yet discussed the matter.

This article was also published by the Reno Gazette-Journal on 03.11.13
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Categories: EDUCATION