Corrected Special Grand Jury Report
August 9, 2002
The community of Carson City would have been much better served had the Carson City District Attorney’s office arrested and prosecuted John and James Bustamante with the vigor that was shown in the arrest and prosecution of Rolland Weddell. Given, through testimony to this Grand Jury, that:
The Rolland Weddell incident appears to be a one-time event triggered by fear and concern for the safety of his daughter and an employee. In his mind he had reasonable cause, based on information provided by his daughter and employee, to believe his attempted arrest of James Bustamante was within the provisions of the NRS. The arrest and prosecution of Rolland Weddell for the use of deadly force by discharging of a firearm during the arrest attempt was at the discretion of the Carson City Sheriff’s and Carson City District Attorney’s Office. Whether or not Rolland Weddell’s use of deadly force through the discharge of a firearm while attempting a citizen’s arrest was within the provisions of the NRS was, and still is, a matter for the courts. AS of this time all further attempts by Rolland Weddell to obtain the arrest of John and James Bustamante have been pursued by legal means without the use of deadly force.
A proper investigation of the Cole incident, given the testimony and evidence presented to the Grand Jury, would have resulted in the arrest of John and James Bustamante, would have avoided all of the recall petitions, charges leveled by Weddell and the necessity for this Grand Jury.
— Carson City Justice Court Clerks and Judges need training to update them with the most current case law and court decisions regarding the filing and handling of complaints brought to their office for filing and legal action, including those made by private citizens.
— The Carson City District Attorney’s office should employ and utilize a criminal investigator independent of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department.
— Based on the testimony given by the Carson City Justice of the Peace, Carson City District Attorney and the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, there are no provisions or defined responsibilities for keeping current on Supreme Court decisions or changes in the Nevada Revised Statutes which affect the statutes and laws they are enforcing. A process should be in place to ensure that all employees and officers are aware of pertinent NRS revisions and/or Supreme Court decisions that may affect their job.
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— Based on the testimony given by the Carson City District Attorney and the Carson City Sheriff, both demonstrated an alarming lack of knowledge of the statutes which form the basis of the laws they are supposed to be enforcing. There should be some process in place to ensure these offices are properly aware of and have a basic understanding of the NRS.
— The last Records Retention Schedule appears to have been established by a letter from the Carson City District Attorney’s office to the Carson City Sheriff’s Department in June of 1988. This schedule should be revised to agree with the statute of limitation and recommend that records not be destroyed until a certain amount of time after a case is closed in all judicial systems.
— The Carson City District Attorneys’ office needs to improve coordination in handling cases brought to them by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, with a standardized tracking form to ensure that any investigation is completed properly and in a timely manner.
— The Carson City Sheriff’s Department needs to provide a better tracking system for the tracking of evidence, photos and crime scene reports so that investigative officers can obtain current information on any case under investigation in a timely manner.
1. New procedures should be developed regarding the handling, processing and storage of film taken as evidence and of the resulting developed photographs to ensure that they are available to anyone assigned to or investigating a case. Copies should be kept in each appropriate case file.
2. Procedures should be developed to ensure that pictures used in photographic line-ups are the most current ones available and that facial characteristics and ethnicity more closely resemble descriptions provided by victims or witnesses.
3. A live line-up facility should be made available. When available or appropriate, an actual suspect presented in person to a witness or victim by means of a live line-up is superior to a photograph. A current facility or room could be redesigned to accommodate multi-uses, as this type of facility would only be used on occasion.
— Carson City Sheriff’s Department response times should be developed for various levels of priority calls into the dispatch/911 center. All calls should be logged and the resulting response time noted. Review of response times should be made every 90 days by the Sheriff and be made available to the public.
1. Better handling and prioritization of incoming calls on the part of the Sheriff dispatch the morning of Oct. 17, 1997 might have avoided the entire incident. An experienced, sworn duty officer should be assigned to dispatch to ensure calls are given the proper attention.
— Based on all the testimony presented to the Grand Jury, the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, in particular the “detective’ division, demonstrated a marked lack of competence in the handling of both the Cole and Weddell cases. Training procedures and/or testing should be in place to ensure tasks are assigned to qualified personnel.
1. A state of minimum standards should be designed for the position of Detective. This should include, but not be limited to, training regarding how to fill out reporting and investigative paperwork, how information should be shared, coordinating with the Carson City District Attorney’s office, and the handling of evidence. A testing or accreditation process for detective status should be in place to ensure similar incidents do not occur.
2. The Carson City Sheriff’s Department personnel need to have training on dealing with the public, citizens’ complaints, follow-up calls and handling difficult situations with regard to citizens.
3. The Carson City Sheriff’s Department staff should have mandatory training in the Incident Command System levels appropriate for their positions. As an option, this training is available through the Nevada Division of Emergency Management at no cost.
— A logical policy and procedures statement that is understood by all levels regarding the assignment of cases should be established by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department. The Case Assignment Sheet should be redesigned to eliminate confusion with regard to the status of a case.
— Shift change briefings in the Carson City Sheriff’s Department should be held at the change of each shift and all appropriate personnel should be appraised of the status of impending investigations.
— The Carson City Sheriff’s Department should establish and implement random drug testing of sworn and non-sworn employees. Notification that testing will be done during a designated timeframe does not constitute “random.”
— A one-time performance evaluation program of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department should be established reporting directly to the Carson City Board of Supervisors which will:
1. Include an expert in Law Enforcement Administration, or in organization of such departments;
2. Include citizens who have evidenced interest and involvement in law enforcement issues, but have no direct connectivity to the Sheriff’s Department, (e.g., no direct connectivity to relatives or close relationships, etc.);
3. Be empowered to examine all policies, facilities, organizational structures and personnel policies;
4. Be funded by the Board of Supervisors and report to the supervisors in a public setting.