Two Investigations for Police Services Traffic Stop Completed - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Two Investigations for Police Services Traffic Stop Completed

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University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson announced Thursday that two separate investigations regarding a 'disturbing' traffic stop are now complete, and that appropriate steps have been taken following personnel policies. 

In a statement, he said: 

The internal affairs investigation conducted by University Police Services and a separate investigation conducted by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX regarding the police traffic stop earlier in the fall have been completed. Appropriate steps have been taken following University and Nevada personnel policies. It should be noted that personnel actions are confidential by law, due to Nevada Administrative Code 284.718.
 
I understand and empathize with individuals who feel frustration regarding the traffic stop and its aftermath. The thoughts, suggestions and personal testimony shared by our faculty, staff and students have reinforced in my mind the importance of a safe and welcoming campus environment.
 
The Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office, Chief Diversity Officer and Police Services have worked to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of our reporting policy and procedures when a crime, threatening action, or threatening words are reported. Further, Chief Adam Garcia has been meeting personally with numerous student groups on campus to understand their perceptions of safety, and will continue to do so. He has also instituted comprehensive training processes called “Bias Policing Training” for all department members, with participation from respected community members. The department has embarked on a recruitment drive to further diversify the department. Training will be ongoing.
 
Given what has been happening in our country, I can understand why some might feel that official statements denouncing hateful words and actions are not enough. We’ve had many conversations, meetings and workshops this semester to address these events and the impact they’ve had on our campus. We will continue to hire the most diverse faculty we can, to bring the campus together for thoughtful, meaningful dialogue on the subjects of diversity and inclusion, and continue to hold trainings and workshops so that we can all better understand each other in the workplace and in the classroom.
 
This is our focus going forward.
 
 - Marc Johnson, President, University of Nevada, Reno

The graduate University of Nevada, Reno student involved in the traffic stop released his own a statement one month after the incident. 

The incident happened early Sunday morning on September 24th on Virginia Street, close to Lawlor Events Center.

The video below is the full version the school released to the public.

The remark comes shortly after 4:15 in the video below.

Officer 1: "Holy s****, I'm glad you're not fighting, you're too big."

Officer 2: "Yeah, I was just going to shoot this guy if he went sideways, because f*** that."

In an earlier statement, Director of Police Services Adam Garcia called the language “reprehensible” and “deplorable,” and was taken back when he saw the video.

“I'm angered, am I surprised?” Garcia said. “Absolutely, this is not behavior that I expect my officers to take part in.”

The man in the video who the police commented about is UNR graduate student Kevin McReynolds, who came forward to University Police to file a complaint. Garcia says he admires his courage. “I commend him for coming forward, for talking to us,” Garcia said. “So we can get to the bottom of what was said, and take the appropriate actions.”

On October 24, McReynolds released a statement on his blog , explaining the emotions he felt that night and how the University handled the situation.  

In part, his statement reads, "On the campus that I call home, my life was threatened by a police officer for being too big and too black. But I know I’m not alone. Evidenced by the university’s tepid response to my incident as well as many other similar incidences, I feel there is a systemic racial inclusivity problem at UNR. I believe my experience shows that UNR is more concerned with the appearance of diversity than actually assuring the safety of minority students on campus." 

He goes on to say, "By noon Tuesday my phone was ringing off the hook. I received carefully worded calls from Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Richard, Title IX Coordinator Denise Cordova, and even President Marc Johnson. While I appreciated their kind words, their calls felt like carefully choreographed damage control. Each call danced further and further from the unavoidable fact that a white police officer threatened the life of an unarmed black student. Each assured me that the language was incongruent with university values, but during the past year, I watched a Charlottesville white supremacist welcomed back to campus and saw swastikas painted in an art building. I believe that my incident was downplayed then treated as an inappropriate apparition because kind words are easier than the hard questions and hard choices the UNR administration needs to make.

I brought these concerns to President Johnson in a series of letters that spoke to my fears as a minority student and how I hoped to play a positive role in the campus community moving forward. He offered a number of campus and faculty diversity initiatives as evidence of the university’s commitment to diversity. But having a diverse campus does not mean having a safe campus."

University president Marc Johnson responded to McReynolds by saying, “As University President, I again offer my sincere apologies to Kevin McReynolds. I’ve met with Kevin and his father about the traffic stop. The actions and language of the University officers do not reflect the University’s values. We still have much work to do if we are to become the place we hope to be. Our goal is to be an inclusive campus where all of our students, faculty and staff feel safe.”

Garcia said he decided to release the video and the statement in order to provide as much transparency as possible, something UNR student Kayla Wolfson says is a positive thing.

"These interactions do happen, not just here, but all over the country,” Wolfson said. “And these are issues that need to be spoken about.

De Andre Seals, a student at UNR, was not surprised to see the comments made, even with recent tensions between police and the black community.

“I feel like it's totally unnecessary and uncalled for,” Seals said. “Given the circumstances of what we're going through, in our current situation as a nation.”

Another UNR student, Evan Hogan, believes the context of the video is important.

“If he thought it was joking and he thought it was funny, then I don't see a problem with that at all,” Hogan said. “But if he was like ‘hey that's not cool’ then yea that's completely understandable.”

The University’s police department and the University’s Title IX office are investigating the incident. While has not spoken with the officers involved yet, Garcia says everything from minor punishment to termination is on the table at this point.

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