Police commission not a good plan, Sheriff says

A public safety commission, which oversees a police and fire chief, could turn public officials into scapegoats, Carson City Sheriff Rod Banister said Tuesday.

The formation of such a commission was one of four proposals brought to the Carson City Charter Review Committee by Supervisor Robin Williamson.

With a consolidated city and county government, the charter gives Carson City an elected sheriff rather than an appointed police chief.

Banister noted that a sheriff has to answer to voters every four years, and answering to an appointed group would make the police chief's job harder. People would complain to the board about their problems with public safety and the board in turn would use the chief as a scapegoat, Banister said.

"I have a friend who said 'you run for office every four years. I run every other Tuesday,'" Banister said. "As a sheriff, you have four years to keep the community satisfied or you don't get re-elected."

The charter committee is a group of Carson residents who meet every two years to peruse the city's charter.

They are, essentially, the group that recommends changes to the rules by which the city operates.

The committee appointed by city supervisors and state legislators, met for the first time Tuesday to begin discussing changes to the charter.

The committee discussed items relating to public safety and the election of city supervisors, but ultimately asked representatives from the city and District Attorney's Office to provide more information on everything.

Williamson proposed four ideas to the committee for review, most prompted by calls from residents, she said.

"I frankly don't have real strong feelings on this," Williamson said. "But I'm not comfortable dismissing these thing without a public discussion."

The idea of electing supervisors by ward rather than in citywide elections has been turned down by voters and city supervisors since at least 1992, but the idea resurfaced Tuesday.

Williamson said it may cut down on the costs of campaigning and get people more involved in the political process.

City Clerk Recorder Alan Glover said changing the voting system would force the city to buy a new $100,000 voting system.

The committee will be discussing these and other potential changes in the next few months. Shelly Aldean was elected committee chairwoman and Donna Kuester the vice chair. All decisions made by the committee are forwarded to city supervisors for approval. If approved by supervisors, they head to the Legislature where they are either approved or denied addition's or amendments to the city's charter.


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