Interim Reno Police Chief Jason Soto gave the following remarks at the April 15, 2015 Reno City Council meeting:
Good morning — Mr. City Manager, Mayor Shieve, Council men & women — I would like to start off by telling you how truly humbled I am to stand before you as your interim police chief for the City of Reno.
I also want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support, to include my family, our great citizens, the media and the men and women who stand behind me; both retired and current police officers as well as my executive command staff Tommy Robinson and Mac Venzon who have been extremely professional throughout this transition. Your service will not, and does not, go unnoticed.
As I have stated, this appointment is temporary, as the Council will soon be in the process of selecting a permanent Police Chief, and I will make myself available to ensure a successful transition that puts the Reno Police Department in the best position possible for the community.
I would like to share a little bit about myself with our community, so they better understand who I am, and what I stand for. I began my career with the Reno Police Department in 1997 as much of my family also served. My sister, Leigha Struffert, was the first woman in the history of the Reno Police Department to reach the rank of Commander before honorably retiring in 2009. My brother, Dax Soto, currently works within our training division as an officer and my mother retired from the department after working a career in both Dispatch and Community Services.
In 2011, I took on the role as the President of the Reno Police Protective Association and helped this department through the most difficult fiscal times our city has ever endured. Many officers were laid off and several more retired to save the jobs of as many of their fellow officers as possible. Through my leadership, every one of these officers were offered their jobs back after myself and the board of directors negotiated with the city to take pay and benefit cuts from all officers for the better of this community.
I have lived in the City of Reno since 1978, growing up for a short time on Neil Road, and eventually moving to both north and south Reno. I truly love my community. And I love to serve in this community. I am proud of who I am, and where I have come from. I have donated countless hundreds of hours to assist in local charities to include the Special Olympics, Moms on the Run, the American Cancer Society and a multitude of others.
As your Interim Chief, I have a vision to share with this council, and with our community. That vision is to lead this department with the involvement of the ENTIRE COMMUNITY. Without a strong community relationship in this modern era of policing, you will not be successful. Your police department will be led with transparency, accountability and honesty at every rank, both within the Police department, and within our City. "Your Police, our Community."
I intend to foster a culturally competent department which reflects the diversity of this community. I intend to focus on using new recruiting techniques for all the men and women of this community that would like the opportunity to serve. Because of my experience with the association, I have a unique ability and background to understand not only labor, but management at every level. Former Police Chief Steve Pitts and I worked on a nearly daily basis to address every aspect of this department. For the past 10 years, I have responded to nearly every officer-involved critical incident and understand the importance of this experience. Leading 250-300 officers of the RPPA for the past four years was an honor.
Effective immediately, myself or my command staff will regularly attend future Council meetings to give you a short brief of what your department is doing for our council and our community.
This is an exciting time for the City of Reno. This new council and city management have taken great strides to improve the quality of life for our community. Your Reno Police Department will share in that vision to provide the highest level of police services so that our community will feel safe and involved with THEIR police department.
In closing, thank you for placing your confidence in me. I embrace the challenge and responsibility. I understand that I will have my critics, and I only ask they allow me to show just how well I can lead this department. For it is character that should be the most important qualifier, above all. These men and women who put on this blue uniform mean the world to me and are the most professional group of officers anywhere.
Thank you, and God Bless.