They are a group of six area residents tasked with reviewing citizen complaints against local sheriff’s deputies and referring their findings to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
In fact, the body, known as the Nye County Peace Officer Advisory Review Board also reviews internal investigations of peace officers within the county upon final resolution of an investigation.
They, in turn, forward their recommendations regarding any disciplinary action against a peace officer, without limitation, including increasing or decreasing the recommended level of discipline, and/or exonerating the peace officer who has been the subject of an internal investigation.
On Wednesday, May 30, the new advisory board members were officially sworn in at the Nye County Commissioners’ Chambers. Undersheriff Michael Eisenloffel, who said the sheriff was instrumental in the creation of the academy and board, oversaw the ceremony, attended by several county officials, including Commission Chairman John Koenig, District Attorney Angela Bello and Sheriff Sharon Wehrly.
“She has overall supervision of the academy,” Eisenloffel said.
While at the podium, Wehrly said the ceremony was the second Peace Officer Advisory Review Board Academy graduation.
“We really didn’t know how this was going to work when we started it,” she noted. “The training, graduation, implementation and continuation of this board is the culmination of four years of developing, revising and publishing the guidance ordinance into a workable product. At its inception, the board, in accordance with the original ordinance, was intended to provide disciplinary recommendations to the sheriff concerning citizen complaints about sworn personnel.”
Wehrly also said the original ordinance, which was passed on October 21, 2014, was worded in such a manner that the board’s recommendation would have been submitted to the sheriff too late to be included in the sheriff’s disciplinary decision.
“The sheriff must act within the time and requirements written into the Nye County Law Enforcement Association’s bargaining agreement,” she said. “The process must fit into the negotiated six-month disciplinary period.”
Moreover, Wehrly spoke about her admiration for the time and effort the six individuals put in to become bonafide members of the review board.
“We are very proud of these folks for the interest and tenacity they have shown by dedicating one day a week for multiple weeks to attend and complete this academy,” she said. “We know the board activities will impact their family life and we appreciate the support each of their families have given, to bolster them thus far, as well as the continued support they will provide in the future.”
The members, Wehrly noted, received the basic elements of course subjects, which focused mainly on Nye County Sheriff’s Office operations.
“They were also provided hands-on instruction consisting of firearms live-fire and patrol familiarization, and their law enforcement education will be ongoing,” she said. “Our goal is to provide this board with the tools to evaluate our actions in an unbiased, honest and lawful manner. Their pledge says it all.”
Koenig, who gifted each board member with a Nye County lapel pin, kept his message to the group short and to the point while noting that it can be difficult to find capable individuals agreeing to give up their time for the effort.
“First of all, congratulations, and second, thank you for volunteering,” he said. “It seems to get harder and harder to find capable people who wish to give up some of their precious time to help out. During your term, you may be called upon to help make some tough decisions regarding discipline of our valued deputies. If you are, please keep in mind what you learned during the classes you have just completed.”
Former Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone actually spearheaded the action of creating the Peace Officer Advisory Review Board Academy roughly two years ago.
“I was prompted to start the advisory board because a lot of people in the community wanted to have a grand jury,” Carbone said at the time. “Knowing that we couldn’t get a judge to commit to a grand jury, I thought that maybe we needed to do something a little different. That’s really what kicked it off.”
Carbone also noted that the course allowed the advisory board to better understand the workings of a law enforcement agency.
“Now, if something does come in front of them, they know how to do the job they need to do, which means find out the truth with evidence and so on,” he said. “They needed to learn that whole process, and it’s good that they know it now.”
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes