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Ground Zero Initiative

Ground Zero Initiative

The creation of a Ground Zero Unit within the detention center is high priority. The Ground Zero unit would be comprised of inmates who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and want to participate in an intensive in-house treatment program. This program is designed to prepare inmates for the transition into the comprehensive, wrap-around services provided by the Crossroads program.

To make this possible, it will require Sheriff’s Office leadership to not only think outside the box, but to throw the box away completely! The words we can’t,  it cannot be done or we’ve always done it this way, can no longer consume our mindsets.

A Detention Center Ground Zero, followed by wrap around services upon inmate release, is a measure that must be taken if we want to see a decrease in crime and incarceration rates. It is my mission to advocate the importance of addressing the underlying issues which create the need to commit crime.

In order to help reduce the burden on our local medical facilities, I will ensure that the State of Nevada has a platform within the jail to identify those who are eligible for Medicaid and have them signed up prior to leaving the jail. This will allow current inmates to have immediate medical care upon release.

Ground Zero will serve the individual as well as the the community. Ground Zero ultimately saves taxpayer dollars by reducing our cost of housing inmates, police, fire and ambulance services. More importantly it will stop crime before it is committed, making our community a better and safer place to live.

Every bed day (a day an inmate spends incarcerated) costs taxpayers $126. This can double or triple if an inmate suffers from alcohol, drug addiction or mental illness. My plan is to increase the bed days saved through the programs like Crossroads Reno and Sober 24. These programs are currently saving our jail 100,000 bed days a year or $12.6 million dollars annually. In addition to a reduction in EMS, fire, police and medical cost this translates to approx. a 20 million dollar annual savings to our community. These programs still have a waiting list to get in. As a member of this community I find this unacceptable.

By doubling down on programs like these along with creating new programs by organizing Community Action Partnership programs my goal is to increase the savings to 300,000 bed days within the next 4 years, increasing the total savings to the taxpayer to 60 Million dollars a year.

These cost savings will create ample funding for the Ground Zero unit as a sustainable measure and prepare us with the necessary budget needed to expand the detention center if the population of inmates continue to rise.

Please join us as we create a Community Action Partnership team to address these possibilities. Contact us today!

Learn more about the Ground Zero Initiative

Preventing In-custody Fatalities in The Washoe County Detention Center

Preventing In-custody Fatalities in The Washoe County Detention Center

The rise in fatalities occurring in our detention facilities is unacceptable. It needs to become a priority among all Washoe County Sheriff’s staff to reduce the number of preventable deaths in our custody. Not only is this our responsibility, it is a basic human right that cannot be compromised!

The Washoe County Detention Center was one of the first Direct Supervision Jails in the U.S., proving to be a successful model for the care and custody of inmates. The principles practiced by deputies under the Direct Supervision model allowed staff to consistently monitor, interact, and intervene in the lives of inmates more directly. These frequent interventions provided deputies with the information they needed to identify inmates who were experiencing suicidal thoughts or required assistance with life threatening medical conditions.  

Due to budget cuts and an increase in inmate populations, Washoe County is no longer practicing the principles of Direct Supervision as designed.

“Forging a New Path”

“Forging a New Path”

Together, we will begin “Forging a New Path” for Law Enforcement, and create Community Based programs.  This new path will have a positive impact on the lives of those in our communities.  We will impact how we incarcerate inmates. We will focus on the individual and ways we can facilitate them in becoming whole and productive members of society. On this New Path we will reduce the cost of incarceration to the tax payer, have a positive impact in families and children . Washoe County will thrive.  This requires the Sheriff’s Office, to partner with the community. This New Path requires “A New Way of Thinking”, “A New Way of Seeing” and “A New Way of Being”, to not only think outside the box, but throw the box away. Click here for more information.

Reduction of Crime and Jail Population

Reduction of Crime and Jail Population

If predictions are correct, the population of Washoe County will nearly double in the next decade. As the population increases so will the need to house additional inmates, resulting in a potential need to double the capacity of the Washoe County Jail.

An extraordinary  number of inmates are addicted to drugs, alcohol or are mentally ill. Those diagnosed with a mental illness frequently are not compliant with their medications and often self medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to gain control over their lives. This can ultimately lead to homelessness or a life of crime to support their addictions. These lifestyles almost always lead to police involvement and incarceration.

C-A-P Community Action Partnerships

C-A-P Community Action Partnerships

CAP stands for Community Action Partnerships, but what it means is vastly more important that what it stands for.  What it means has everything to do with the disconnect that has occurred over the long period of time between Law Enforcement and the communities we serve.  To a very large extent, Law Enforcement has had an Us versus Them mentality.  I know this because of my long career in Law Enforcement spent entirely at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.  While we have tried various programs and initiatives, such as Community Oriented Policing, Problem Oriented Policing, DARE, GREAT, these have all fallen by the wayside at the Sheriff’s Office for various reasons.  Law Enforcement tends to try to solve problems by reactionary measures.  Seldom, if ever, do they approach the citizens of their community in any meaningful way to determine exactly what the problems are that are causing our citizens to commit crimes and then actively soliciting the help of the citizens to come up with solutions to those problems. No one is more motivated to solve a problem than those experiencing the problem. 

CAP will actively solicit feedback through person to person contact with communities within our county wherever they may be at the time.  What is unique about a CAP is that it is truly a partnership, not just a conversation.  I want anyone wanting to make a difference in their families, in their neighborhoods and in their community, to become a partner with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.  I firmly believe that within our community, the answer to every problem we are facing exists. Community Action Boards (CAB)currently exist within many areas of our communities.  These are valuable and our continued participation in them is vital for the community to have a voice about issues within their neighborhoods.  However, we need to tap into the knowledge and passion of our citizen’s to identify problems, the causes of those problems and the solution to those problems.  As Washoe County Sheriff, I want our CAP team members to be able to say, I played a part, a key role in fixing a specific problem within the community.  The days of bringing up a problem and expecting Law Enforcement to come up with a ground breaking idea are gone.  The true ground breaking ideas have yet to be discovered and I believe they live in the minds of our citizens.

By creating programs and solutions from within the community, we are impacting two key areas that are obstacles to sustainability of the programs.  The first is the bureaucracy and red tape required to start and sustain innovative programs is overwhelming at times.  True community based programs have far less bureaucracy and red tape to deal with and therefore creation and sustainability is much more likely.  The second is funding of such programs.  By creating community partnerships that create the community based programs, we are taking the responsibility of future funding out of the hands of government.  When economies falter and government budgets are cut, programs, whether innovative and successful or not, are cut.  Grass roots programs developed and supported through the community are not reliant on government funding so when budgets are cut, successful programs have a much better chance of sustainability.

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

“Bridging the Gap” will be one of the first C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) that will be formed. This team will look at the ethnic composition of the incarcerated population within the Washoe County Jail, assess issues and determine appropriate actions to better serve these communities and reduce recidivism rates.

A disproportionately high percentage of inmates in our jail, suffer from mental illness at some level.  Families of these individuals are often left in the dark about treatment of their family members. Communication along with education can alleviate their anxiety.  I will work to ensure that families of our mentally ill inmates are kept as informed as possible, of jail policy and procedures relating to mental health.

Washoe County and my family are both comprised of multi racial, multi ethnic and multi national people. This cultural diversity significantly enriches our lives. We are however, not immune to having the same problems that other communities face.

Click Here  to learn more about Bridging the Gap 

Wandering Prevention Initiative

Wandering Prevention Initiative

Law Enforcement is tasked with two mandates across the nation and that is to PROTECT and to SERVE.  While all aspects of Law Enforcement are of great importance, there is perhaps no greater aspect than the protection and service to the children and the elderly within our community.  In line with my Ground Zero Initiative, focusing on identifying the causes for the need to commit crimes, making a concerted effort to educate our youth before they are introduced to drugs and alcohol is key to breaking the cycles of use and abuse.  As Washoe County Sheriff, I will work closely with our local organizations such as The Children’s Cabinet to assist them in any way I can to educate the children regarding drug/alcohol abuse and there link to crime.  I will also work closely with our partner agencies to assist in educating the youth in our schools.  As the Training Committee Chair for the NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS – NV, I will advocate for NAMI training on mental illness and support services to be brought into our school system and within organizations such as The Children’s Cabinet.  Early detection and education on mental illness, along with connections with the families of students with mental health issues, is so important.  Mental illness is a long road for the person with the illness as well as their families and that road frequently ends with incarceration.  I firmly believe because of my work with adolescent and children with mental illness as well as my personal experience with mental illness in my own family, that we can make a positive impact with education and support services.

Washoe County used to be an active participant in the D.A.R.E program, but no longer provides this service to our children.  I was a certified D.A.R.E. instructor and believe in early intervention and early intervention is a key to my Ground Zero Initiative.  Using the Sequential Intercept Model, early intervention in the education setting can be used as an intercept which could play a key role in the reduction of drug abuse, crime and jail population.  I believe it is imperative to take whatever steps possible to save the lives of our children and will do everything in my power to re-institute the D.A.R.E. program in Washoe County.

The elderly pose a very unique challenge for Law Enforcement.  Often Law Enforcement come in contact with an Elderly person who my be homeless, have Dementia or Alzheimer’s and who may be in need of constant monitoring and care.  If, when contacted by Law Enforcement, they are in need of housing and a stable environment, Law Enforcement is extremely limited as to where they can take an elderly citizen.  Most often they are taken to local hospitals, which causes a burden on the Emergency Rooms or they are taken to one of our homeless shelters.  Often, elderly citizens with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, will wander away from their caregiver, causing an extremely dangerous situation for the citizen and a difficult and time consuming situation for the officer.

Our community currently has a program called Temporary Assistance For Displaced Seniors (T.A.D.S.), located on the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS) campus.  T.A.D.S. exists as a location for Law Enforcement who have the need to house a homeless elderly citizen who may have no food or any other type of stable environment.  T.A.D.S. not only provides this stable environment, but it allows the officer to be back on the street in a short period of time.  Also available to elderly citizens with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or children with Autism and their families is the Wandering Prevention Program (WPP).  WPP offers radio frequency tracking for these citizens providing the officers a way to quickly find a wandering citizen and provides a measure of security and peace of mind for the families. The family may learn about WPP in many ways, through resource bags given by Law Enforcement while on a call with the family, Washoe County Social Services, Nevada Aging and Disability Division, nursing homes, memory care facilities or the local Alzheimer’s Association. 

As the current WPP Program Manager, I have tripled the size of the program by working with local law enforcement, local charities, governmental agencies and local care facilities.  I see the benefit of programs such as these to citizens as well as Law Enforcement.  As Washoe County Sheriff, I will work to not only keep these programs in place, but will advocate and assist in their expansion.

Investing in Community Health: How it can Save Lives and Money

Investing in Community Health: How it can Save Lives and Money

Saving Lives:

The creation of a Ground Zero Unit within the detention center is my highest priority.  The unit would be comprised of inmates who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and want to participate in an intensive in-house treatment program. This program is designed to prepare inmates for the transition into the comprehensive, wrap-around services provided by C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships), such as Crossroads Reno and Sober 24 facilities. 

To make this possible, it will require Sheriff’s Office leadership to not only think outside the box, but to throw the box away completely! The words WE CAN’T or IT CAN’T BE DONE or WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY, can no longer consume our mindsets.

Recidivism Reduction Agenda

Recidivism Reduction Agenda

To reduce recidivism, we must first focus on human behavior. Why did Law Enforcement enter into the picture in a persons life in the first place. Then we need to shift our focus to the crimes committed and the ensuing arrest. To reduce recidivism we must focus on those who have already been incarcerated and successfully returned to productive lives. Then we will be able to create successful programs that will reduce recidivism in our Washoe County correctional facility. 

The first step is to shift the focus of our attention to the factors and behaviors that most commonly lead to police involvement. Possession, use and addiction to drugs and alcohol along with mental illness are at the top of the list. Those addicted to drugs and alcohol often commit crimes to support their habits, or buy alcohol and drugs to self medicate their mental illness. For decades, incarceration has been the default response. Jail is often the only place to take people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues. Jail has therefore become the default mental health hospital and drug and alcohol detox center. We cannot arrest ourselves out of these problems.

Once Law Enforcement becomes involved, officers options are currently limited. This  limitation is placing a burden on local hospitals, EMS services, jails and ultimately our society and tax dollars. People with mental illness require psychiatric treatment.  Incarceration has the potential of worsening their mental illness and costs taxpayers as much as 2-3 times more than housing inmates without those issues. Once released these individuals are likely to be contacted by Law Enforcement again and again fueling the recidivism cycle.

One of the most urgent C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) groups will be formed to consider alternatives to incarceration or transport to local hospitals. This group will be formed to create new community based sustainable programs and resources as an alternative to incarceration. This C-A-P group will be tasked with looking at ALL options and determining an appropriate course of action. Law Enforcement needs designated location(s) where they can bring these individuals, where they can receive temporary housing, medical and mental health care as well as access to wrap around services. As Sheriff of Washoe County, I will take this C-A-P group recommendations and will work diligently to implement them. Should these recommendations fall within Federal, State and local laws and guidelines I will advocate for them.

When the only alternative for Law Enforcement is arrest, I will implement a Sequential Intercept Model. By intercepting these individuals while in custody we will be able to make a smooth hand off to treatment programs and services outside the jail. This currently happens on a case by case basis through the IAP (Inmate Assistance Program). The current protocol is an arduous process. The detention unit has to wait until the person is being released from custody to intervene. In many instances, these individuals are taken out of the area for treatment. If the inmate is uninsured or cannot afford treatment, the inmate may not be able to access the current programs. This continues to fuel the recidivism rates and additional crimes. 

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office does not offer Sequential Intercept programs for inmates in custody. The time while the inmate awaits disposition is an ideal time to insert a Sequential Intercept Model. I will form a  C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) panel to design and create a “Ground Zero Unit” This program will begin inside the detention facility. If we initiate the recovery/stabilization process while an inmate is in custody, that inmate is more likely to be successful once released into another supportive environment.

I am a proponent of the arrest, incarceration and stiff punishment for those convicted of producing and distributing illegal drugs within our communities and support every effort to incarcerate these criminals. 

Please contact me to become a part of these C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) programs. Together we CAN put an end to the high rates of recidivism in Washoe County.

Crossroads Reno

Crossroads Reno

I worked for many years on Patrol and then in Detention and I frequently voiced my concern that we didn’t have a location to take someone who I felt needed assistance and not incarceration, that if we could only provide testing and counseling services to drug or alcohol addicted people and not incarceration and that we had no way of dealing with the elderly who wander away from their caregiver.  I watched as Crossroads, a collaborative program between government and the private sector, began and was making a significant impact in our community and on the jail population by providing housing and wrap around services.  I then became aware of Sober 24, where citizens are sent for routine testing for drugs and alcohol and further wrap around services to include counseling and job finding skills.  When asked to take over the Wandering Prevention Program, a grant funded program providing resources and tracking services to individuals with Alzheimer’s, Dementia and children with Autism, I jumped at the chance.  I have tripled the number of participant on the program simply by communicating with local individuals, facilities and various groups around the county. 

When trying to affect recidivism, jail population and crime rate and programs such as Crossroads and Sober 24, that have proven track records of saving peoples lives, breaking the cycle of addiction, and saving tax payer money, programs like these cannot and will not be overlooked by my administration.  They do this by keeping people out of jail at the rate of approximately 100,000 bed days saved per year, by providing housing and wrap around services to its clients for under two dollars ($2) per day when housing that same inmate could cost tax payers $126 to $378 per day, by reducing transports by EMS, by reducing ER visits and by limiting the number of calls for service to deal with these super utilizers.  I am committed to increasing their impact on the community and have set a goal of increasing bed days saved to 300,000 bed days within the first four years of my administration.

As Washoe County Sheriff and keeper of the county budget for Law Enforcement services provided by the Sheriff’s Office and as a Law Enforcement executive, I cannot overlook the positive effect and cost savings programs such as these are having on our citizens, our community and on our tax payers. I whole heartedly support what these programs are doing and will assist in increasing the scope of these programs and other programs that have positive effects on our community. I believe we will see dramatic decreases in the number of inmates in custody, a reduction in crime and reduction in the overall burden on the system.  Citizens actively working on their sobriety, their mental health and complying with court orders are less likely to be committing crime, victimizing others or driving drunk.  Law enforcement involvement will be decreased, freeing officers to respond to other calls for services, providing a greater presence in your neighborhoods.  EMS will experience less interactions with these citizens and ER’s will also experience lower utilization.  These affects are currently being tracked so I know the programs are working and working very well.  The key is helping them expand so as our population increases, we are not exponentially increasing the burden on Law Enforcement and our consolidated jail.