Police Chief Condemns Officer Violence; Offers Solution & Starts - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Police Chief Condemns Officer Violence; Offers Solution & Starts Community Dialogue

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The suspect involved in the recent fatal shooting of two New York officers said it was in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We sat down exclusively with the Reno police chief this week -- who condemned the violence against officers and also gave some insight on how the department is working to prevent violent confrontations in the Biggest Little City.

Police Chief Steve Pitts says officers in Reno are taking a pro-active approach by building relationships with local groups to help prevent violent situations from happening here. "What we've seen in 2014 is about a 24% increase in fatalities in law enforcement personnel, federal, local and state,” said Pitts. "A sharp increase in officer-involved violence has prompted a discussion across the country and here at home."

Chief Pitts told us RPD is reaching out to local groups to encourage a dialogue to avoid any kind of violent situations. “In the Reno Police Department we have more of a community-based approach. So we have a good relationship with a variety of different demographics in our community, not just race along many different boundaries,” said Pitts.

Pitts says it's been an effort they've worked on since 2012. "What we want to do is get leadership together and talk about Ferguson as a case study and how would we deal with something like that in our community,” said Pitts.

While some major cities had protests surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Reno was mostly quiet with only four small protests.

Reno Police along with other local law enforcement mutually met with local minority and faith-based groups to discuss the issues, in an effort to keep the violence from spreading into Reno. "It creates a lot of tension and when that kind of tension is created... everyone tends to respond out of that tension,” said Pastor Michael Randle.

Pastor John Wynn of Greater Harvest Church said the deaths and the events that have followed have been unfortunate. “Chief Pitts has come into a place of 'let's talk, let's communicate. How can we and how can we all work together,'” said Wynn.

Pastors John Wynn and Michael Randle are also putting together a minority and community symposium with police in March to help address community relations with local law enforcement. "We still have an opportunity to work and I think that's what's been happening and I think that's what's going to continue to happen,” said Randle.

The chief believes the department's biggest asset is a good network and relationship with residents. “It's what's the community relationship you have, what's that network you have so you can get in front of these things before they occur,” said Pitts.

We'll post more details on the minority and community symposium as they become available. 
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