IV/CB Community Forum Minutes

July 26, 2021

The link to the recording of the meeting is below:

Corey Solferino – Washoe County Sheriff Office, Captain

Good morning everybody. I’m Corey Solferino, Captain for Incline Village. I was promoted on Monday. I’ll give a bit of history about myself. I’m finishing my 23rd year with the department, and have done a bit of everything in my career from K-Nine to SWAT to highway interdiction. I was a K-9 master trainer, did background investigations, and patrol. When I was young in my K-9 career, I spent a couple of rotations up here but was never formally assigned to Incline Village as a resident deputy but worked up here off and on while I was on K-9. I’m happy to be up here. I was fortunate enough from the community donations and grant to increase our footprint in Incline Village, so to have a more active voice for the community for the Sheriff’s Office to address the needs of Incline Village. We’re excited about this opportunity. What I’m also really excited about is the chance to bring our leadership team up here. So when we re-staffed the substation we had the ability to hold interviews for our lieutenant, our 5 sergeants, and for our deputies who are coming out. We’ve surrounded ourselves with awesome people like Sergeant Noah Boyer who is a former resident deputy up here in Incline. He has vast experience in and of itself. I’ll let him talk to you about all his qualifications and the accolades he’s won in his career. I’m just really excited about this opportunity to hear in person once we finally open up to hear what you guys need from us and to be a community partner to help you guys out. I’m excited for the opportunity, so thank you.

Noah Boyer – Washoe County Sheriff Office, Sergeant

Like the Captain said, I was promoted to Sergeant on Monday, the same time as the Captain. I was a resident deputy up here with the Sheriff Department for 16 years, the last half in Operations. I spent a large majority of that time as resident deputy up here but I left to take a position in the Consolidated Bomb Squad had the opportunity to become part of the SWAT team and have continued to push forward with that which is much different that the state programs[?]. With my promotion and the opportunity to come back up here I want to bring back what we had before in the Sheriff’ department. Like the Captain said, we want to take the input from the community and figure out how we can help everyone out.

Peter Morris – Incline Resident

Quick question. Are you at full staff now and what does full staff mean?

Corey Solferino

Full staff in the age of police reform…. Yeah…. Actually we’re doing very well. We’re fortunate enough that the Washoe County Commissioners allow us to “overhire.” It’s very difficult to recruit, and train within the Academy, just to get the initial POST certification. POST stands for Police Officers Standards and Training. There are certain criteria that must be met before we can even bring them on line. So from start to finish, from the time one fills out the background, fills out the application, does the test, goes through background check, goes through the academy, goes through the Field-Officer Training program, and comes on line takes anywhere between 12-18 months—so a year and a half out.

Washoe County allowed us to anticipate “overhires.” So we have 15 overhires we can use. So, even when we are fully staffed, we can hire an additional 15 people. That allows them to get into the queue. Unfortunately, about 60% of our department can retire whenever they want. I’m not saying they will, but they can. As you saw on Monday, we had several promotions. In my entire career, we’ve never promoted 5 captains in one calendar year. We’re going to promote 5 captains this year. That’s a lot of upward mobility, a lot of movement. In addition, we’ve also staffed some additional programs. You saw recently we were involved in the Homeless Outreach program and also partnering with the Sparks Police Department. That’s taken another 3 positions. So even though those are new positions, the replacements for those positions on the back end haven’t even entered the academy yet. So those were people who were assigned to Patrol and Operations, and now they’re in these other assignments, so now we’re backfilling their positions.

Suffice it to say it’s going to take us about a year to get fully staffed up. We currently have 5 deputies in the Incline Patrol Academy. They will be supplementing our Patrol footprint up here. Currently of my 5 sergeants I have authorized, I have 2 in place. The 3rd is in Valley Patrol right now—that is, the other side of the mountain—Reno. We hope he’s up here by September. My 4th one hasn’t been promoted yet. We’re hoping he’s promoted by the end of the year. The Sheriff is trying to stagger these promotions so it doesn’t affect all the other divisions they’re leaving. A lot of our promotions are coming from people on Special Assignment. So when we pull somebody from a Special Assignment Operations to get promoted, then the Patrol deputies, Detention deputies usually put in for those positions that will be Special Assignments in Operations. Then we’ll be hiring for those… and so the chain goes.  It will take us about a year to get fully staffed up here. But as far as our Sergeant, the Lieutenant, and Captain—myself—I’ll be up here every day for the immediate future. So it will take us a little bit of time, but we’re continuing to push forward.

Recruitment. You can help us in that regard. Today people have a stigma about law enforcement in this day and age. We’re very fortunate to have community supporters like you guys. We’re very well supported in our community. Noah and I couldn’t have the privilege of being in a better community than Washoe County/ Incline Village/ Reno. For the most— part—85-90%— people are very, very supportive. In other parts of the country, crime is rising exponentially and police are less supported. I just recently came back from a community college in Las Vegas where they have 500 vacancies. Our staffing is not that big. We have 433-39 depending on paper how many positions we’re looking at right now with authorized strength and new positions. They have 500 vacancies. Very good friends of mine work for Las Vegas Metropolitan and are part of the Government Affairs team. Every legislative session we get our list together for our lobbyists to promote bills on behalf of the Sheriff Department. In Las Vegas they’re down 500 officers. They’re also the ninth largest agency in the entire country with an authorized staff close to 4000. So we don’t have some of those huge issues that are happening across the country and in our very own state right now.

We can use your help in recruiting. Thank you guys for the community support and always helping us. Our biggest obstacle moving forward these next 5-10 years will be getting over the stigma of law enforcement and recruitment and making sure we’re recruiting the right people who want to do the job correctly for the right reasons and are truly pillars of our community.

Shirley Appel – Incline Resident, HOA President

What is the law in Washoe County regarding what we’re seeing in San Francisco—this theft thing as far as tourists are concerned where they’re smashing cars and taking things. What is the law as far as vehicle burglaries?

Corey Solferino

It’s a very, very low-level felony.  I say very, very low felony because that same lobbyist team I mentioned just a few minutes ago… our State legislature wanted to make vehicle burglary a misdemeanor. The only thing that helped us stave that off was the car rental industry. Las Vegas is a huge tourist destination. I hate saying it, but a lot of Las Vegas politics drive statewide policy. So car rental companies were our biggest advocates to help us prevent making this a misdemeanor. If it was a misdemeanor burglaries would also go up exponentially.

I’m not sure if you guys have heard about it, but one of the things the Sheriff’s Office has implemented “stratified policing.” That’s one of the reasons they sent several of my colleagues and me for 4 months to do a graduate program with respect to efficiency and effectiveness in fighting crime. The Sheriff’s goal this year is to reduce vehicle burglaries and residential burglaries by 15% in Washoe County. So one of the things you’re going to hear from Noah, myself, and a lot of the other people up here, is “targeted enforcement.” You’ll see things that we’re going to be doing in the community. In the last 4-6 weeks the Sheriff put out a Public Service Announcement (PSA) indicating that we’re no longer taking vehicle burglary reports on line. We want to capture more demographics and information, so it’s not just an insurance claim for you guys to submit to be made whole again. But so that we can actually collect better evidence—perhaps DNA—to stop some of these rings before they get out of control, and actually hold people accountable. Whether or not they’re held accountable on the back end of that is our concern, but the community’s concern is that they’re going to answer, so we can identify these people and prevent further victimization.  That’s the Sheriff’s goal this year to move forward as we start to get more efficient in our delivery of stratified policing. We’ll have different goals moving forward but the biggest goal this year is to get back community service again. Technology is our best friend. But sometimes you lose that service industry side of it when we say, “Hey you’re just a victim of a crime, so fill it out on line for our report.” Probably that’s not the best customer service in the world, right? So even though it takes us longer to do that, we can hopefully stop some of these crimes. I think it will be a better return-on-investment for everybody—the Sheriff, the WCSO, and the constituents.

Margaret Martini – Incline Resident

I have a question on qualifications for becoming a Sheriff in your academy. My son went through the accelerated RENSA Academy as a paramedic because he’s just not an English Literature student to get a college education. He just wants to get to the meat of it and “let’s do it.” Is that how your Sheriff’s program works too?

Noah Boyer

No. So right now we’re with the Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academies. Those are the regional public safety training centers training officers for the Sheriff’s Department. We have actually expanded to 22 beats right now. A lot of that has to do with… we still have the nuts and bolts of our job—how to drive a police car, defensive tactics and techniques, understanding the law, the law on search and seizure, traffic stops—there are just a myriad of things we have to do, but as we’ve seen with the new legislation that’s been put into place and we’re going to see more on Crisis Intervention Techniques. We’re seeing more and more emphasis put on that. We’re seeing our expanding curriculum [?] push that time frame closer to 18 months from the time we get someone to put in an application until the time we see that person come on line.

Margaret Martini

Does the applicant have to have a college education?

Noah Boyer

As of right now, no.  Some hiring processes you can get bonus points for having a college degree, which helps. But for right now they’re still sticking with just high-school graduation. But I’ll say this and I’ve been teaching at the academy. I’ve spent years teaching [?]. We’ve seen a change in the younger people who are becoming law enforcement officers. Because we’re seeing this change in mentality—we’re seeing a lot more critical thinkers. We’ve had the people who are “go, fight, win” “go take a hill” and that’s great and there are times for them; but we’re seeing the change in mentality that we’re seeing a lot more thinkers. And that’s what we need up here, people who can critically read the situation. And think, “These are the tools I have, and this is how I’m going to apply them.” As we continue to add more and more to the academy. After they go the 22 weeks of law-enforcement academy and once they’re finished, we give them another month of our agency specific stuff. So they’re spending more time but we’re giving them the best tools possible to hit the street. They then go to work in the jail.

Corey Solferino

I want to add on to what Noah just said. One of the things… and this is where we kind of tout our agency. I think of myself fresh out of college where I did a year of law school and realized I didn’t want to be an attorney. I jumped right into the Academy with the goal of working for the Attorney General’s office as an investigator, but got recruited by the Sheriff’s Office.  I’m glad I did. The WCSO has a ton of diversity. In my entire career, I’ve never done the same thing more than 3 years. So I go back and look at myself as a 21-22 year old rookie officer. Did I have everything it took to be a good police officer? Sure I had the knowledge, but I didn’t have the experience. If you look at a lot of our sister agencies in the area, who hire a lot of cops, they put them right on the street. They kind of struggle during their first couple of years, but they figure it out. Our officers all start in our jail. Some people like that; some don’t. But I’ll tell you what the jail does. They learn very, very quickly. When you’re working in a housing unit with 112 inmates and just 2 deputies—sometimes 1—you’re making sure you have the correct inmate to deputy ratio—you know anytime they want to take over, they could. You know there are consequences for their actions. But you learn how to talk with people. You learn how to deal with people. When those officers leave the confines of the correctional facility and go out to deal with the public, it’s aged them. It’s matured them. It’s College 101 for a lot of those corrections officers. So to your point, I don’t know if there’s a perfect educational blueprint for the perfect law-enforcement officer. Some great cops have military background, but no college. Some great cops have Masters and PhDs and no military. Others just have life experience, and they’re phenomenal. There was legislation this year that would have prohibited us from hiring anyone without 4 years of military or a Bachelors degree. I looked in my own department and asked how many good cops do I have without those demographics.

Times have changed. Once, the Sheriff asked, “Do you have any tattoos?” Any on your arms had to be covered fully… and if you had anything on your hands or your face or your neck…. The policies have relaxed to change with the times, right? So if a person has a face tattoo or a military arm tattoo or something that’s visible to the public, is that a bad thing? To adapt to the times, we’ve had to change some decades-old policies so we don’t automatically shut the door on somebody who would have been a phenomenal candidate just because they have a forearm tattoo from their service unit.

Margaret Martini

Are you recruiting from the ROTC program?

Corey Solferino

We’re recruiting everywhere. We’re recruiting on Facebook, Twitter, Hashtags, and at colleges. We’re recruiting at military depots as they get discharged from the military. But again, to go back to an earlier question, there’s a problem with recruitment. When Noah and I first started, we might not have made as much in the public sector as we could have in the private sector, but we would get a nice pension, and we had health benefits for our families and ourselves. So that pulled people away from the private sector to go to a government job. Well now a lot of those benefits have been slashed. We’re grandfathered in, but the new kids… They can’t retire in 25 years, they have to go 30 years regardles They don’t have medical when they retire. They don’t have some of these other things. So now they’re looking at the private sector where in the time of COVID they can work from home. This is going to change how we do business from here forward relative to meeting teams, this that and the other. A lot of corporations are looking at their footprint and thinking that having my people work from home and not having to pay $40K per month to lease a building….  It’s going to change the way the police do business.

Yolanda Knaak – Incline Resident

I just want to thank you for coming today and thank you for doing such a great job in our community. I did have to visit the WCSO substation in early January, and it was absolutely great. Thank you so much.

Rafael Ortiz – Incline Resident

Is the District Attorney prosecuting those you cite? I was concerned about the thefts … the problem is will the DA actually prosecute them?

Corey Solferino

I’ll get a little political here.  Whether the DA chooses to charge has a lot to do with our investigation and what they can prove. They do charge, but not always. One of my detectives—whom I’ll bring up here when he gets promoted at the end of the month—had a series of vehicle burglaries, and was able to take a DNA swab, and got DNA confirmation that the person who was a suspect was inside the vehicle which he had no legal reason to be inside. But the DA would not charge on it. That’s a case in point. 

It’s a difficult challenge for us. You’re in the day and age of violent crime—unfortunately property crimes affect most of us up here—pray to God that none of us are victims of violent crime—they are looking toward that, violent criminals—holding them accountable. The services side of it—where you have property crimes… As Noah and I know in our world—you have drug crimes that lead to property crimes and crimes of violence, so we want to curb that. We want to get services out there for these people who are trafficking in the drug trade and drug transactions.

But doing or dealing drugs in and of itself isn’t just a property crime and isn’t just a crime against a single person. It can become a crime of violence. People who think the marijuana trade is not a crime of violence because it’s legal now are grossly mistaken. All legalizing marijuana did was drive up the grey market and the black market marijuana. Now you can go get a pound of California bud or Nevada bud and the further you go east, you’re doubling and tripling your profits.

So our interdiction team that I used to be a part of is getting ready to head back to Baltimore because it’s the number 1 interdiction team in the country for the second year in a row. So there’s a lot of stuff that’s coming through our community, that’s earmarked for our community, and stuff that’s passing on through. One of the biggest concerns we have right now is the opioid fentanyl. With just a microscopic amount of fentanyl, you can have a very bad day…. Try it once—you’re dead. We had last year unfortunately a couple of graduate students who were victims of some opioid-fentanyl scam and we lost them. So we’re really pushing on the WCSO for getting with Baltimore with their national [?] map program so we can identify outbreaks before they really descend on our community and affect it. There is an off-brand of Fentanyl (#U47770?) that is 5000 times more lethal than regular Fentanyl. Four or 5 years ago our interdiction team took 5 lbs of it off the street in Reno—not passing through from one place to another. Five lbs is enough to wipe out the entire population of San Francisco. It’s ridiculous. So those are some of the things that are affecting our community.

On the political front, where this question first started with the DAs, that’s a question probably better answered by DA Hicks who is kind of a victim of the same things we are right now in terms of what they can get a conviction on. [Some of it depends on] what services are  out there that we can provide to some of these people that are suspects in our community. And try to get out of the “hook and book,” and get them some services so it’s not just a revolving door for them.

Our prisons are maxed. We’re spending approximately $655 million over the next biennium (2 years). We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do with our prisons. A snapshot of our prisons shows 60% of the prison population is there for property crimes and/or drug crimes. So do those potentially lead to violent crimes? Absolutely. But I’d much rather get those violent criminals out there behind bars. Then if we can work on the services side—get people some help that perhaps prevents them from commiting crimes in the future. The “hook and book” strategy is not working to our benefit. It’s costing us millions and millions and millions of dollars annually. So it’s a balancing act. I know that didn’t answer your question, and I apologize, sir, but…

Noah Boyer

Just one thing I want to throw on there is that we’re fortunate we’re a small community because it allows us to—and forces us to—work closely with Judge Tiras as well as our DA.  We have one DA who’s assigned to Incline Village for our normal cases. What that allows us to do is develop a relationship with our DA and judge so we understand what they’re looking for when trying a case. “What do I need to prove?” So if we messed up, we can do better on our end. We can learn from that. So what we have is the chance to ask “What are you looking for so we can make a better case so you can prosecute and so it’s not something on our end that becomes an issue.” And having those relationships….  And when we have someone who’s a prolific offender, we can go to the DA and say,“Look, we don’t want you to make a deal on this. We want you to fight.” Because we have a relationship, we have that ability to fight for our cause. We had that relationship with our judge and DA at that time. When it came to speeders and traffic offenders, there were certain things we needed to do to ensure that if it was someone who was a continual violator—to ensure that case was prosecuted and fined, and a fine was paid.

That’s one of the things we’re working with— bringing our deputies up here and developing those relationships.Public safety up here as a whole is a partnership. We have to have these relationships so we’re not just this autonomous Sheriff’s department but part of a continual criminal-justice system.

Corey Solferino

When you look at the system of law enforcement now you realize we’re very specialized. We have our SWAT team, we have our bomb team, we have specialized responses. So not every deputy can do every job. There’s specialized training that comes with it. The DA’s office has begun to do that too. Because along with specialized crimes come specialized investigations and prosecutions. So keeping track of opioids, [?],  property crimes, that’s one of the things we’re working on with the DA’s office.

As Noah just brought up, we have the luxury of being a small community up here and because of that collaboration, the deputies will know what they need in their report, what four steps they need to do [inaudible 26:09].. And that’s one thing we have been working on with the force the last 4 years with DA Hicks, is to get specialized prosecutions. So it’s not just “You’re a brand new DA and every time that deputy goes on ?? or a property crime.” If it’s a different DA they don’t get the same collaboration. One DA wants this and the other wants that. So also in the Field Training Officers program, some FTOs want this and some want that. We do recognize that. Up here we are working toward the same goal, so that’s an issue we don’t face.

Rafael Ortiz

Because “catch and release” down in [inaudible 27:17] know that, do we have a decent relationship with the DA and is he of the same mindset? Or is the mindset these are all minor crimes and shouldn’t be prosecuted?

Noah Boyer

We have to look at the totality. That’s where we’re seeing the change that starts with Cory and his work at the legislature. Because of the last legislative session, starting July 1, 2023, traffic offenses are no longer criminal, they are a civil offense. With that we’re seeing that there’s going to be a change at the DA’s office and at the WCSO. But it’s not going to change the way we do business and traffic enforcement. It just changes the back end of it. With that we see the growing pains; we see the reform. For example, we see the dollar amount for what used to be considered petty larceny. That has jumped astronomically. And the weird thing is it’s based on the price of a cell phone. So prior to this last change, if you stole a cell phone, it was a felony. We would take people and put them in jail for stealing a cell phone. So now they raised the dollar amount—$1995—so where before that would have been easily a felony, now it’s a misdemeanor.

When we look at the staffing in the DA’s office, it’s just like most of our public safety stuff right now. You have a murder case…  and you have theft of a cell phone. So they’re going to work with the defense and say, plead guilty, do community service in place of restitution as opposed to a year in jail. There’s a balancing act at the DA’s office. I’m very glad I don’t have that job because I’d be really bad at it. But it doesn’t change the way we do enforcement. We’re still responding to calls for service. We’re still taking people to jail who need to go to jail. We’re still completing our investigations. The deputies we have are doing the best they can. Once we take that packet of paperwork to the DA’s office, it’s out of our hands. We can follow up for some property crimes and stuff like that.  We do the best we can on the initial investigation, but it’s then in their hands.

Rafael Ortiz

How’s the morale on your force given these changes?

Noah Boyer

I will say it’s very, very good. Here in Washoe County we still get lots of support. And over the years we’ve had a lot of support. One of the best stories I love about this town is when I was up here before as a resident deputy, at 3pm every day, the NHP, the park ranger, and I would have coffee together. We had to have our community engagement, and I wanted my coffee. We were sitting at the counter waiting for our coffee having a conversation, and a young man came in and was saying derogatory comments to me. An older gentleman from our community was sitting in the corner. He got up, walked over, and said, “We like our police officers. You’d better leave.” And he stood there until that young man left. And it’s always stuck with me as an example of the support we have in this community.

Because of my specialty I’m tasked with a lot of community special events. So I worked a lot of these events, which was great. I can tell you I’ve heard thousands of times, “Thank you for your service.” There is deep appreciation. I think that’s still the feeling. Are there the outliers who drive by and give us the “professional wave”?  Absolutely. That won’t change. But the overwhelming majority is supportive. That’s one thing I love about this community—Washoe County in general—we do have a lot of support.

Corey Solferino

I’d like to comment on what Noah said. That community support is infectious for our deputies. You can easily get caught up in the social media, Facebook, Hashtag rhetoric talking this side or the other. Even though it’s such a small percentage of the overall, we’re trying to say, “Look at all the community support, so you can ignore all the rest of the rhetoric. Not completely ignore it—because it’s good to be humble.” But it’s absolutely huge for them and their mental health.

One of the things Sheriff Balaam was able to do with the Duffield grant was get a mental-health professional full time just for our staff. We’ve always had peer support after a critical incident. When I came into the profession you didn’t show your emotions. You went to a call where there was a dead baby, or a call where there was a bad accident, or a call to a grisly crime… And it was “suck it up” “chalk it up,” and on to the next call. Catching up with the times, we now realize the effect of those issues that repeat over a 20-25-30 year career. So Sheriff Balaam and Manager Brown were able to get staffing for a mental-health clinician which awesomely enough was a former Sparks Police Department officer who had a traumatic incident, went to school, and got his degree in counseling. So he has some of the historical knowledge about things our men are responding to. He now has the credentials to sit down and talk to them in an open setting, and get the help officers need before they have an outlandish outburst, which a citizen tapes and then appears on Facebook. So we are really striving to take care of the mental health of our men and women in the WCSO. And we could not have done that without community outreach. It’s important to each and every one of you in this room to let our commissioners, our manager, and our sheriff know the well-being of our officers is important.

Peter Todoroff

Okay, we’ve spent over 30 minutes on this. I’d like to hear what Neil has to say and then we’ll go on to another subject.

Neil Commerford – Incline Resident

I’m not sure to whom to address this question, but I’ll start here and put it on the table. The Federal government has now designated electric bicycles as “motorized vehicles.” If we could do that here, it would solve an awful lot of problems we have. These e-bikes are being ridden at great speeds and they are heavier and faster than regular bicycles. They’re riding them on the purposed trails around town, and on the bike paths. And they’re destroying a lot of the dual-purpose trails up on the mountainside. I don’t know if you’ve hiked up there recently. They’re a menace. How do we go about getting them designated as “motor vehicles” and out of all these places?

Corey Solferino

Contact that lovely group I just referenced that meets every other year down in Carson City, sir.

That’s one of the things that we honestly have to evaluate, is that balancing act of technology of the services we’re doing with recreation uses. These e-scooters are in downtown Reno. We have e-bikes ending up in the river. We’ve seen pictures of e-bikes on the summit of Mt. Rose. They are all over the place. You look at some of these larger metropolitan areas, and they’re becoming mainstays. I just had the pleasure of going to a conference in Washington DC not too long ago with Sergeant Boyer and was riding a “Lime scooter” around 9 monuments in an hour and 48 minutes. That was pretty amazing. When used in clearly defined areas—where you can and can’t go—where there’s geo-fencing where we can do some of those things—the rentals are great.

For the larger bikes, that’s something we’re going to have to address, sir. It does create safety issues. But it is a balancing act. If we’re going to define them as a “motorized vehicle,” they have to be outfitted and equipped appropriately, licensed appropriately, and insured appropriately. Commissioner Hill has been working on a project right now.  I’m doing some research on that very subject matter to make sure we’re not making rash decisions, and we are protecting the environment, the public, the recreational cyclists, and those who choose to run, walk, and use our trails otherwise.  Give me a little time. I just got that email on Sunday and realized it was an issue. That something that is absolutely on our radar. The first step will be legislation clearly defining that and how we can go about notifying officers and enforcing that in the community.

Peter Todoroff

I have a question from Heather Williams. What is going on with Highway 28? Why was it closed?

Cory Solferino

Why was it closed on the 4th of July holiday when a gentleman in a 5th wheeler decided he didn’t want to wait in traffic and decided to make a U-turn and got stuck? That’s why it was closed.

Peter Todoroff

If these e-bikes are considered “motorized vehicles,” they’re not allowed on the sidewalks.

Corey Solferino

Right. If they’re clearly defined as a motorized vehicle, they then must be licensed as such. The e-bikes create a unique situation for us. It will require legislation to enforce in Nevada in addition to the Federal ruling. Based on that, we still don’t have a local ruling. So to Neil’s comment before, we are researching this. It will be on one path versus another. Similarly, we saw a few years ago [inaudible 38:23] OHV (off-highway-vehicles) were classified as legal and featured on the roadway if they were within x-distance to the property where they were registered. We went through that whole debacle, and that’s still—even though it’s been in the works the past 4 years—that’s still an issue for us.  The e-bike thing is going to be another issue for us even when we get that corrected. But it is on our radar.

Peter Todoroff

I heard there was a problem on the East Short Trail to Sand Harbor with these e bikes. And even regular bikes because they don’t make noise are hazardous to people walking and doing their exercises.

Corey Solferino

I live in Damonte Ranch in Reno. We have that cool thing when they did the southeast connector that goes all the way from Veterans parkway to Geiger Grade all the way up to I-80. So there’s a nice bike path for almost 8 miles. I’m no slouch, but I was pedaling 20mph with my family and one of those e-bikes passed me doing 30mph. I was pedaling pretty good. So I do understand the risk and the safety to the public. When those guys crash at those speeds, it creates all kinds of different issues. I’m an avid cyclist. I like doing those things. At a younger time in my career, I was a mountain bike instructor. We had some nasty accidents and deaths in this Community based on records. There was one coming down Country Club [inaudible 39:57] …clocked going 65mph down there with no brakes. We were trying to figure out what the impact speed was of a cyclist who died and hit a car at Village coming off Country Club because he was just carrying too much speed. So we do know those inherent risks. And that’s something that we’re going to fight for in this community to make sure everybody is protected—bicyclists, pedestrians and the place we call the crown jewel of Nevada, Lake Tahoe Incline Village. So it’s destroying some of the vegetation and some of the trails we’re looking at. We have to get the ammunition we need to effect change.

Peter Todoroff

Last of all I want to say thank you for coming up here. We needed to meet you guys. Also are you on my mailing list? [No, sir.] So please leave your card for everybody and I’ll put you on the mailing list. You’ll get to see the minutes of the meeting. Next I’d like to hear from the Fire Department.

Corey Solferino

[To Ryan Sommers] Our first day up here and the Chief didn’t even grace us with his presence???

Ryan Sommers – North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Chief

No I didn’t come there. You’re handling it just fine.

Corey Solferino

I’ll come see you later, Chief. I can’t wait to work with you.

Ryan Sommers

It’s going to be a good partnership. It will continue and as far as I’m concerned it’s going to be great. Obviously, we are a little busy with some of our resources down at the Tamarack Fire. But we’re still staffing every single station with normal staffing 24/7. With that, the chipping list is getting a little behind. I apologize, but that’s what we’re going to be working on and getting caught up on that. So if anybody has any outstanding piles, work with us a bit, but we are getting there for sure. I haven’t been able to attend the past few meetings. I apologize. Thank you for coming to the Pancake Breakfast. It was very successful. I think Tia may have reported that. Our very sophisticated count method came up with 900 servings—that was how many plates we used. We had a fairly mellow 4th of July weekend, which was nice.

Peter Todoroff

So if there are no questions for the Chief, I’d like to say thank you for the work you do. We all really appreciate it.

Rafael Ortiz

I have a question for the Fire Chief. I was at a forum the other day where there were questions about the Red Flag day warning. Where is that warning displayed? Is it roadside? In other words you have a STR visitor, or other visitor, or resident who wants to use their propane BBQ on the porch. Is there a push out to notify the public as to whether or not you can use your own propane BBQ.

Peter Todoroff

Are you on my mailing list? No BBQs, no nothing. I sent that out 2 weeks ago.

Rafael Ortiz

I was in a community forum yesterday and there were a lot of people up here who are visitors who are not on your mailing list. Where besides the roadside, where else is it displayed if it’s a Red Flag day?

Peter Todoroff

Like he said, you can contact the Fire Department.

John Crockett

How would someone visiting find out?

Ryan Sommers

All of our information is coming directly from the weather station. I think the most convenient way and the way most people will be looking at it is a weather app on a smart phone. It is going to be able to display their current location and their weather. And those alerts are coming on those apps. Obviously it’s our normal social media reach out, and I get that. Visitors aren’t going to specifically look for North Lake Tahoe Fire unless they need us. So we’re relying on word of mouth, social media, and the apps on your smart phones. If they’re subscribers to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: www.noaa.gov/weather), which is really the only way they’ll get the correct weather—if you want to call it correct—all those notices are posted on those apps as well. 

Rafael Ortiz

Has there ever been a thought of putting out a warning like they do… What’s the app called when there’s a missing kid? [Amber Alert.]

Noah Boyer

There are certain statutory requirements when we look at the Public Safety Announcement system. We have to meet certain benchmarks to put that information out as frequently as we have every 5 days. Unfortunately, if it doesn’t meet those thresholds we can’t report. So we rely on the social media aspect and community outreach, and traffic signs. We’re actually looking at some other signage we can put up regarding education about fireworks and fire issues and that type of stuff.

But because this is a tourist area, we need to figure out how do we reach out and notify everyone, in a way that they can rely on on a regular basis.

Peter Todoroff

I have a question about that. Is it possible to coordinate with CHP and NHP on Highways 80 and 50— to put up electronic reader-boards along the highways? Put up ‘No Open Fires, No BBQs, etc.” Is that possible?  Most visitors coming up here are using those two routes.

Noah Boyer

That’s something we’d need to follow up with. It’s a lot easier for us because we’re in NV so we can reach out to our partners in the NHP. California is… California. So I don’t know what California’s requirements are or who we’d go through to get permission. It’s also possible to have lights flashing saying, “Tune to 1610 for information.” There are those systems in place for announcing Red Flag warnings. It just takes some follow-up.

Peter Todoroff

All the fires have been started in California. So it would probably be in our best interest to follow through with California.

Noah Boyer

I’ll reach out to the CHP.

Peter Todoroff

I’d appreciate it because it’s a safety issue up here. Just trying to get out of the basin if there’s a wildfire would be catastrophic.

Corey Solferino

Chief, could we work on legislation next session to outlaw California tourists in Nevada?  [much laughter]

Ryan Sommers

As far as those reader-boards at NDOT, like Sergeant Boyer was saying, we have a great relationship. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll put up on that board what we want. Please keep in mind that if something is always on that board, people will start ignoring it. It will become useless. Ask the WCSO. That stop sign sits there every single day, but they just don’t look at it anymore. We have to be careful what we display and when we display it for it to be a useful message when they’re driving down the highway at speed to be able to read it.

Lynette Cardinale – Incline Resident

There’s a community billboard at the intersection of Village and 28 in front of the 7-11 that I’m always looking at. It’s in a very trafficked area. And there are new messages that attract my eye. Could something like that work—maybe with flashing lights saying “Red Flag Day”? Something like that, and giving a website where you can go to find out to the recommended behavior for that day. This is really important. We’re talking about our community. We’re not talking about tourists being able to launch their boats on a certain day. This is detrimental. If they can put out all up and down Highway 80 every 10 miles signs saying “Get Vaccinated,” I’m sure they could put up a Red Flag Day warning. We need something that can communicate the danger. These are tourists vacationing in our home. They’re here to have fun. They’re not concerned about safety. So they do things—we have recognized in Raley’s—that are obnoxious.

So we need to alert them. There’s no excuse not to know that there’s a Red Flag warning issued for a particular time period.  Is someone able to be responsible for going to that little billboard and putting up RED FLAG DAY? To say in this day and age we have no other way to inform tourists… They’re going to buy their hotdogs and burgers and have BBQs. And if nobody calls them on it, they’re going to do it. That’s a concern for all of us. There’s no reason signage shouldn’t be up in a location like on that billboard. People can see it is a Red Flag Day. They can go to the website for instructions. Story over. There’s no reason for a lack of communication.

Sara Schmitz

My question is for the law enforcement officers. First, thanks for all you do in our community. Your service is greatly appreciated and very needed. So thank you. One thing I’ve noticed is on my phone app and on my car’s GPS the speed limits for Incline are still reported as 35mph. If people are driving through our community, and they’re looking at their GPS for the speed limit, it’s wrong. I’ve been writing Washoe 311 about this for more than a year. I’ve never had a response. But if someone could investigate, it would help the community and your efforts as well.

Corey Solferino

Are you talking about Apple Car Play or Google Maps so when you’re driving they say what the protected speed is and what your speed actually is?

Sara Schmitz

Correct. When I’m driving on Lakeshore, my vehicle GPS tells me it’s still a 35mph speed limit. When the speed limit was originally changed on Lakeshore, it was accurately reported on line. But something happened, and it changed back to 35mph. I think the same issue exists with the change on Country Club.

Peter Todoroff

It’s my understanding that all of Incline Village and Crystal Bay is 25mph now.

Sara Schmitz

That’s not my point. We know, but when tourists drive through and their car GPS or the WAYZ app is showing an incorrect speed limit—it doesn’t help us or the officers.

Corey Salforino

I’ll get right on that. Unfortunately we’re kind of at the mercy of some of this technology because it’s not government-funded and government-authorized or sanctioned. But that’s an excellent point and we’ll reach out to them this month. Thank you.

Sara Schmitz

And I know it was originally working correctly. I don’t know how it gets reported when there’s a change. But it was apparent that it did get reported. And now it hasn’t been correct for quite some time. Thank you.

Kari Ferguson – Incline Village General Improvement District, Communications Coordinator

Sara, I have had experience with this. There used to be an app I used for work, and it was wrong on Google Maps. I had to email Google to get that handled. That’s something that Google and WAYZ report from the County. So that’s one of the issues.

Sara Schmitz

FYI I have written them dozens of times. So I don’t know how you were able to get it fixed.

Kari Ferguson

You’re right, they don’t always answer. I have a couple of updates. We have kept our Ordinance 7 survey open. It will close Monday 7-26-21 at 5:00pm. So if you haven’t filled out your survey for Ordinance 7, please get on that. We have almost 2000 surveys completed, which is a really good response and we have about 1800 in the cue that are started but not finished. So that was why we kept it open a little longer.

The other announcement is that on Tuesday we have the Meet and Greet at the Chateau for folks who are new to town or others who want to reconnect with the community. We’ll have lots of organizations there including IVCBA.org. NLTFPD will be there. We’re hoping WCSO will be there too. We’re hoping we have lots of organizations at the Chateau. That is from 4-6 and it is on our website. I’ll put the link in the Chat Box.

Judith Miller – Incline Resident

Kari, I’ve been in touch with you about several organizations. I want to know if there’s any restriction on political organizations.

Kari Ferguson

We’re trying to get community resources at this event so people can get connected to their community. Political is not part of this event. We’re trying to connect people to resources. If you want to do a political thing then hold some other type of event.

Jeff Church – Washoe County School District, Trustee

I’m your elected trustee. I didn’t get the name of the lady who just spoke. But the WCSD isn’t political, so I’d certainly like information on that meeting.

Kari Ferguson

It’s not a meeting. It’s actually an event for community members.

Jeff Church

Thank you for sending me the information. I’ll certainly attend if I can.

Joe Farrell – Incline Resident

I’d like to echo Lynette’s concerns about emergency communication. I don’t know if any of you have been evacuated from a fire but it’s frightening. In 1992 my wife and I owned a cabin in California when the Moccasin Fire occurred, which burned for 2 weeks. We were notified we’d be evacuated by the CHP. As we drove along the Old Smith Road we could feel the heat through our car.

Every night on Channel 2 we see the Tamarack Fire. We see how it jumps from tree to tree. We live in a forest.

So I’m on the Board of Directors of the Pulse Point Foundation, which is a foundation out of Pleasanton, CA that has created an app. It was originally for alerting the public—it’s a free app for the public—and is integrated with the 911 system. It’s software to notify the community that there’s an individual that needs CPR. This app will show you on GPS where the victim is and where the nearest AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is. If you’re on it, it’s free. This also dovetails with the fires in Washington and Oregon last year. Our Board had numerous emails from Fire and Police Chiefs in Oregon and Washington about how the Pulse Point App notified the public of the best escape route.

I don’t know about you but I’m scared about these fires. I’m going to buy a motorcycle for my wife and me the next month or two. I’m afraid 28 and 431 will get jammed up and I’ll be trapped like people were in the Paradise Fire 2 years ago. So I wanted to share that information with you.

My second comment is about defensible space. I have two questions for Chief Sommers if he’s still on line. Chief Sommers and I have been in communication about the Pulse Point App. I know the community is signing an agreement with Pulse Point. I’d like to know when it will be in service and available to the public. Also, there are a lot of people who still won’t obey the defensible space rules. My neighbor is not good [?]. I live in the Ponderosa Subdivision. So my second question to the Chief is how to enforce defensible space rules. Do we community members have to turn in our neighbors? Or is your department out their monitoring defensible space? Research shows we need defensible space to prevent severe fires. And I compliment the Chief for all the work you’re doing.

Ryan Sommers

Yes, Joe. I should have put in my report and I do apologize. Monday at 10am we had a project kickoff with Pulse Point. The paperwork’s been completed and we should have a timeline of when it’s actually going to be launched after Monday when we make sure that all the technology is in place at our Dispatch Center. That’s been the biggest hurdle. And not by any means our Dispatch Center, it’s just the logistics of getting everybody together on the same page to get any project completed. So that will take place Monday at 10am. About defensible space, we have inspectors on site who are driving around every single day doing drive-bys. But also with only 2 on staff, hopefully 3 soon, we do get really busy because anybody who pulls a permit—even just to swap out your kitchen sink—we have to do a DNC inspection. So that’s created much needed work and an avenue for us to get out into the community and actually do this and talk to the homeowners. So that’s been keeping us busy.

It may be a lot to ask of the community—I don’t know. I get both sides: we’re not doing enough and then we’re doing too much. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you do have that neighbor… and we’ve heard from a lot of people and we’ve got pretty good results of notifying the homeowners, and they comply. If we have to take it all the way up the chain—which we are in process of doing right now on a property in Incline—it’s taken 3 ½ years—not to get the work done—but to put a lien on their taxes to recoup the funds for going on their property and doing the defensible space work ourselves. That’s not a great timeline. We’re stuck in the bureaucracy of the court system, which you heard a bit about from the deputies—and just when they can get to that kind of thing to get it handled. Does that answer your questions?

Joe Farrell

Yes it does, Chief. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Judith Miller

I understand the short-term rental Ordinance is going to be enforced August 1st—at least that was the announced schedule. Have you been working with the Planning Department and other agencies in Washoe County? And what will your role be in enforcing the STR work?

Corey Solferino

We’re working with Assistant County Manager Solaro and Government Affairs Director Jaimie Rodriguez on a command center and several endeavors. It will be a challenge. Communication and collaboration is kind of the theme of the day. We’ve been talking about communication and collaboration making sure everyone is on the same page. We know this is an aggressive first step in the process and it’s not going to be perfect. But as long as we communicate and hold public forums hopefully we can effect changes. That’s our goal at this time. The Sheriff’s office supports education campaigns. When we write a traffic citation it is not to financially damage the person but to change their behavior. Even with our building stuff, it’s an education campaign. We don’t want to have to take enforcement action until we have to when there are no other options. Being new to the community, my goal is not to come up here and rule with an iron fist. It’s to educate and become a community partner and collaborator and then if we don’t see the effected change that is warranted, then we’ll start going through the penalty phases and everything else that we have to. Education is important—to the point of the lady talking about Red Flag Days communication. That’s kind of my mantra. I want to be for you what the Sheriff has sent me up here to be. When you guys leave, grab one of my cards. Don’t ever call my business desk. I don’t even know why they give me a business phone. I’m out in the community or in a meeting, a meeting, a meeting. Please email. My personal cell phone is on here. Call or text. If I can’t answer right away I’ll get back to you. I’m invested in this community. I’m invested in this place. And I want to be a valuable community member for you.

Shirley Appel

On a different subject, the Tahoe Transportation District. Did anyone have any knowledge of this meeting this morning?

Ronda Tycer

I sent out the reminder announcement yesterday, so I wonder if you’re on my TTD list.

Shirley Appel

Yes I am. What’s happening? I know they’re doing all this construction work right now and using the parking lot, and supposedly this will be going on for the next 2 or 3 years. Why is it they are still pushing the bus hub?

Peter Todoroff

It’s exactly like what happened at the last meeting. The Commissioner was at the last meeting. She was supposed to get back to me about what’s going on in Incline. Dave Solaro was supposed to get back to me. So was IVGID Communications. None of which got back to me.  So my crystal ball stopped working and I threw it away. My advice is to contact the County or the TTD and find out what’s going on. Yes, I saw that the TTD scheduled their meeting during this meeting.

Shirley Appel

Also another thing I saw was they were supposed to notify anyone who lives within 300 feet of the School 2 weeks before they had a meeting. I have not received a notice. Nobody else has.

Peter Todoroff

That’s one of the problems we have. I’ve worked with four commissioners since I’ve lived in Incline. By far the commissioner we have now has been the worst. Why? You have to communicate with the community in order to get community input and satisfy the community. I send out notices about everything of importance that this community needs to know, but I can’t do it if I don’t have any information to send out. I think this is a real travesty what’s going on with our County. For the amount of taxes we pay—12% of Washoe’s tax income and 1% of the State of NV—and we are underdogs. I just drove back from Reno on Highway 431. Up to the summit the road was impeccable—new signs, nice yellow line—and then I headed down to Incline and I was looking at potholes and ruts. I don’t know what they’re doing but I don’t think Reno is as important as Incline because we have snow to deal with. That’s the way it is.

Jeff Church – Washoe County School District, Trustee

I just wanted to say I’m your elected trustee for the WCSD so feel free to reach out to me on any issues involving the schools. Monday we meet to appoint a new Trustee for District D (southwest Reno) but all Trustees represent the entire School District. Tuesday is our regular meeting. There’s a lot on the agenda. Feel free to be involved or reach out to me. I am a retired law enforcement officer and I did actually teach law enforcement recruiting nationwide, so for our newly minted Captain, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to give you input on what I used to teach. Thank you for the time, and as always, a great meeting.

Judith Miller

Is there still an intention to sell the Old Elementary School to Tahoe Transportation District given the fact there’s been no formal agreement and no payment has been received.

Jeff Church

Thank you for bringing that. That’s on my agenda to follow up with the School District. There is a written agreement. But it says they are supposed to act quickly and I would like to take it back. If it were up to me I don’t want to sell it for a bus hub. I want to use it for teacher housing, even in cooperation with the WCSO for housing for deputies, and perhaps some part as a park. Even if it is sold, I’d like to see if there’s any way we could set aside some of the land back to the WCSD for our employees. Housing is a number one problem for the local government in Incline but even down the hill. So I definitely have that on my agenda to address. There is a signed agreement. The question is whether or not we’re in compliance with it.

Shirley Appel

In the past years when they used it as a parking lot and for bus transportation, was the WCSD renting it to TTD? Or how was this whole thing organized?

Jeff Church

I’ve only been on the Board for 7 months, and all the deals that were done were done before I was on the Board. So I’m only the messenger, don’t blame me. As far as I know the School District owns the land and is in the process of selling that land. If I could have any input I would recall that; I would not do that. But we own the land.

Shirley Appel

Well if you own the land and the TTD was using it for purposes for which there was no permit, what is the relationship between TTD and the WCSD?

Jeff Church

I don’t think I have the answer to that. As far as I know, the last time I was there, it was all fenced off. Nobody’s using it now.

Peter Todoroff

There was never an Environmental Impact Statement done and it’s not the same use as it was when it was used as an elementary school. They had people park their vehicles at the school and bus them to Sand Harbor. That isn’t the same as taking kids to school in the morning and home in the afternoon. So it’s a different use.

Shirley Appel

I understand that, but what I’m saying is, WCSD obviously knew that TTD was using this property, but nobody knows what went on. How was it paid for? That might be something to look into.

Ronda Tycer

May I suggest we stop the meeting. It’s already 15 minutes after 10am. I’ll be happy to communicate with you Shirley.

Shirley Appel

Okay.

Denise Davis – Incline Resident, IVGID Ordinance 7, Member

I was in touch with Jeff Cowen from the TRPA. He had to attend other meetings lately. There’s no update on the TTD project. He has no other new information.

Rafael Ortiz

One quick follow-up. Fire Chief Sommers, I’m looking at the NLTFPD website and it would be nice if on your home page you actually said if we have a RED FLAG WARNING. We can go old school and contact every business owner in Incline and ask them to put up a sign in the front of their stores. That’s where the tourists go. Put up that little needle showing it’s a Red Flag Day. You’d be able to communicate to everyone right away. Right now I’m having trouble on your website finding if we have a Red Flag Day… not the National Weather Service report. But on your website and the WCSO website as well it would be nice to have.

John Crockett

Okay folks, we’re going to wrap it up right there. Thank you for coming. We’ll resume in 2 weeks and you’ll see the minutes by email. Thank you for your time.

PARTICIPANTS:

Chris Wood

Corey Solferino

Denise Davis

Doug Flaherty

Hillary Abrams

Jeff Church

Joe Farrell

John Crockett

Judith Miller

Kari Ferguson

Kristina Hill

Lynette Cardinale

Margaret Martini

Neil Commerford

Noah Boyer

Peter Morris

Peter Todoroff

Rafael Ortiz

Ronda Tycer

Ryan Sommers

Sara Schmitz

Shirley Appel

Svata Trossen

Yolanda Knaak

CHAT BOX:

09:20:52       From  Washoe County Libraries : Apologies if things are slow folks, it should catch up soon.

09:34:49       From  Washoe County Libraries   to   Hillary Abrams(Direct Message) : Hi Hillary, what agency are you with?

10:02:39       From  IVGID Communications : https://www.yourtahoeplace.com/events/meet-greet

10:17:36       From  LtCol Jeff Church : Jeffrey.Church@WashoeSchools.net

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