Volunteer Program (SAVE)
SAVE members are empowered by the City of Reno and RPD to issue citations when vehicles parked in handicapped parking spaces do not properly display a handicapped parking permit or a handicapped license plate. An important part of daily patrols is to check public malls and other locations to identify handicapped parking violators. In addition to ticketing illegally-parked vehicles, SAVE members notify businesses of signs that do not comply with current ADA standards.
A first-time handicapped parking violation carries a fine of $250.
Trained SAVE members are assigned to specific city locations, such as neighborhoods and school zones, as a result of citizen complaints received by the Traffic Division regarding vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit. SAVE members then utilize a radar unit to monitor the speed of vehicles at the target location. The speed and license plate information is recorded for vehicles in violation of the speed limit. A letter is then sent to the registered owner of the vehicle informing them of the violation and encouraging them to exercise caution by adhering to the posted speed limit in the future. The Traffic Division initiates a special enforcement plan if the speed monitoring program justifies such a response for a specific location.
SAVE members are committed to sixteen hours of service per month, normally consisting of one four-hour patrol each week. Each two-member team is assigned a section of the City for their shift. At the start of a shift, the officers pick up their equipment (official car, radio, digital camera), and the assignments they are handling during their shift (graffiti complaints, abandoned vehicle complaints, etc.). The team then plans their duties for the day, such as checking graffiti, citing abandoned vehicles, speed monitoring, and visiting malls or other business locations to conduct handicapped-parking enforcement.
SAVE teams also patrol parks, schools, business districts, residential areas, and downtown. Patrol duty consists of observing and reporting to RPD any unusual or suspicious activities, and to remain highly visible in order to deter criminal activity and provide a sense of security for Reno's citizens and visitors. SAVE members are also available to assist sworn officers, for example, at traffic accident scenes, and to help search for missing children.
Some Specific Accomplishments:
- Two young girls rescued from a potential molester in Idlewild Park.
- Spanish-speaking SAVE members translate for police officers.
- A SAVE unit observed and followed a person who had stolen personal property until uniformed officers arrived to make an arrest.
- SAVE teams have reunited lost children with their parents.
- SAVE recovers approximately one stolen car every week.
Citizens who spot an apparently abandoned vehicle on public property, such as public streets and alleys, can call Reno Direct at 334-INFO to request that the vehicle be removed. Indications that a vehicle may be abandoned include:
- Obvious evidence of wreckage
- Broken windows, missing tires, etc. or other signs of vandalism
- Expired or missing license plates
- Cobwebs, dirt, leaves, etc., in and around the vehicle
When a citizen reports an abandoned vehicle, SAVE assists the Reno Police Department's Community Services Officers (CSO's) by responding to the location and posting a parking notice on the vehicle. The parking notice warns the owner that the vehicle will be towed if it is not moved within 48 hours. The PVAs follow up after 48 hours and, if the vehicle has not been moved, they notify a towing service to tow it away.
Reno residents who plan to be gone from their homes for a period not exceeding fourteen days can request a house check by calling Reno Direct at 334-INFO. House checks are performed by SAVE teams for the following:
- Obvious signs of trouble, e.g., a strange car parked in the driveway or near the house
- Anything unusual or suspicious
- Newspapers, flyers, and visible mail, which they retrieve and store in a concealed location, or give to a neighbor to hold
- Footprints, signs of disturbance or forcible entry
- Doors or windows left unlocked
- If there are signs of a break-in, they notify RPD dispatch and wait for a police officer to arrive
SAVE is frequently called upon to perform special duties for RPD, such as:
- Assisting officers with traffic control at accident scenes
- Role playing as a citizens' group, business group, or as City government officials as part of the testing process for Police Sergeant and/or Lieutenant promotions
- Assisting with conducting telephone surveys of community residents to determine satisfaction with and performance levels of RPD
- Distributing police flyers
- Assisting in various ways during Hot August Nights
- Distributing food baskets during holiday seasons
Volunteers receive training by Reno police officers and qualified SAVE volunteers. On initial patrols, SAVE members are accompanied by at least one experienced SAVE Training Officer. SAVE volunteers receive several types of training:
- Personal instruction by a SAVE Training Officer
- Participation in three SAVE patrols with SAVE Field Training Officers
- Familiarization with RPD's radio dispatch, by observing dispatchers
- Participating in a ride-along with a Reno police officer during a regular shift, to observe them in the performance of their duties
- Attending classroom and field trainings given to Reno police officers