Local law enforcement leaders announced Wednesday that their departments will release body camera footage on police shootings within two weeks of an incident.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office as well as the the Sparks and Reno police departments have changed their policies to say investigators will release body camera footage within 14 days of a police shooting.
Sheriff Darin Balaam said he hopes law enforcement and the public will continue to have discussions on how to improve police policy. He also emphasized he created an accountability and legitimacy unit to fulfill any recommendations made in recent study conducted by the Kenny C. Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, which looked at local police practices.
He said he plans to post his agency’s use-of-force policy on the Washoe County Sheriff’s website. That also includes releasing a report on citizen complaints, pursuits, arrests and citations next month.
In a statement on Wednesday, he said law enforcement leaders have listened to the community and that previous conversations in the past month “have not fallen on deaf ears.”
Balaam said he hopes the change in policy will help to maintain community trust.
“It’s going to show that we have a lot of great people in law enforcement that are doing good things, and they’re doing it for the right reasons,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal.
According to the Reno Police Department, investigators will be given 30 days to release the footage on incidents that involve multiple officers and witnesses.
Authorities said the extended time will allow the department to thoroughly investigate the incident and then prepare to release the video.
The identities of those involved will be redacted to help preserve the integrity of the investigation, which will be conducted by an outside agency in accordance with the Regional Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol.
The identities of the officers involved will be released once the investigation is done and the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office releases its review.
Acting Reno Police Chief Tom Robinson said making those changes was necessary to maintain an “excellent relationship” between police and the Reno community.
Still, Robinson emphasized that there has been a concern over preserving the integrity of the investigation, but that there was also a realization that law enforcement needed to get those videos out to the public.
“We realized that community concerns kind of shifted and there’s a strong desire by people out there to view these videos,” Robinson said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
For months, all three law enforcement leaders have been discussing expediting the time it takes to release video footage. They’ve also met with University Police Services, the Washoe County School District Police Department and the Washoe County District Attorney’s OFfice, Robinson said.
The goal was to try and be consistent among law enforcement in the region.
Robinson said the Reno Police Department is constantly reviewing its policies and will likely continue to make changes.
Meanwhile, Sparks Police Chief Pete Krall also announced his department will expedite the time it takes to release such footage within two weeks.
“We have heard the call for increased transparency,” Krall said in a video statement posted on his agency’s Twitter page.
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“If we are unable to meet that time frame, we will release a public announcement detailing why and with an expected time frame for release,” he later stated.
Officer-involved shooting investigations that predate the Sparks Police Department’s policy change will be released in the coming weeks, Krall said, adding those incidents are still being reviewed.
Krall was not immediately available for further comment Wednesday.
The changes in the agencies’ policies follow both national and local public unrest over the use of force stemming from George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
Marcella Corona is a breaking news reporter who covers crime and justice in Northern Nevada. Support her work by subscribing to RGJ.com.