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How the Reno Police Dept. stacks up to other cities our size

Reno Police Department (File photo: KRNV)

The Reno Police Chief wants more officers on his police force.

Per capita, the Biggest Little City has fewer officers than the national average, and fewer officers compared to other cities its size.

“I would like more (officers),” Jason Soto, the Reno Police Chief said. But he says he’s making the numbers work.

Reno has 13.5 sworn police officers per 10,000 residents. Compare that to other cities with a similar population sizes: Lubbock, Texas has 16.8 officers, Savannah, Georgia has 27.5 and Baton Rouge, Louisiana has 32.2 sworn officers per 10,000 residents.

Reno’s lower numbers may also reflect the lower crime we have compared to the other cities.

Soto said he’d love more officers but it’s not that easy to hire more.

“It's difficult with the structure we have in the Reno area because some of the revenues we generate to fund things like police officers to essentially pay for our salaries because of caps on property tax and things like that," Soto said.

"The city council and the city manager have really been looking at different ways to fund, through the city budget more officers, so they've been getting better at that," he continued. "And I've been getting better at looking at different way we can supplement those officers through non-sworn positions that don't cost as much as a police officer.”

In May, the Reno City Council was able to fun six additional officers. That will add to the 323 sworn officers the department already has budgeted. It currently has 317 of those sworn officer positions filled.

But those new officers won’t be on the street for more than a year after they go through the academy and are trained.

The Reno Police Department has been able to patrol the city with even fewer officers than today. The recession was hard on the force.

“[For] 2010 through 2014, 2015, it was pretty dire. We were hurting for more bodies,” Soto said.

The chief said even though some of his specialized units have taken a hit over the years, the patrol division is as strong as it’s ever been. Soto said community policing is making a difference. He’s making the numbers work with what he’s got.

“I have a responsibility as a head of this agency to make sure it works. So whatever the number it, whatever the funded number is, I have to make sure I patrol them appropriately so that every community can be safe,” Soto said.

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