The Sparks Police Department will have its eye on weightier matters.
Sparks police will participate in area DUI saturation patrols, scanning the area for drunk drivers.
According to SPD spokesman Detective Rocky Triplett, as well as officials from Sparks’ dispatch center, Sparks police will not be handing out candy and decorating their neighborhood patrol vehicles this year as they have in the past.
Triplett blamed budget cuts.
“We have three frozen positions in community services,” Triplett said, meaning that community outreach programs, such as those done on Halloween, are taking a backseat to day-to-day safety.
According to various representatives in the Sparks police dispatch department, the officers did host a small community Halloween party at the Alf Sorensen Community Center Thursday.
Reno’s Senior Auxiliary Volunteer Effort program, or SAVE, is run by volunteers. The seniors will be handing out candy in neighborhoods throughout the city of Reno tonight. Haunting neighborhoods in marked Toyota Scion cars, the volunteers will begin their festivities at 6 p.m. The volunteers will wear their own costumes, dressed as officers in their official volunteer garb.
The candy was donated by Walmart, Smith’s Grocery, Sam’s Club, WinCo, Safeway, Walgreens, Raley’s and Costco.
SAVE is a civilian volunteer organization that is designed to help the Reno officers, according to Reno police spokesman Steve Frady. They roam the streets, checking on and ticketing abandoned cars or those illegally parked in handicapped zones, scanning for speeding cars in specific areas and patrolling parks, schools, business malls and downtown.
Sparks police officers are still looking for the funds to strengthen their own community outreach and education program. The department has stopped its DARE drug education programs and school visits, according to department spokespeople.
“Patrol and community services are where we are the shortest,” Triplett told the Tribune in July, following the department’s receipt of a $1.9 million grant. The grant is meant to pay the salaries for six new officers.
In March, then police chief Steve Asher reported that the minimum staffing levels for police officers have not increased in 14 years. In that time, Sparks population has grown by 32,427 people. Now, the city is watched over by 1.22 officers per 1,000 people.
SAVE volunteers receive special training by Reno police officers and qualified SAVE volunteers. According to Frady, qualifications for the program include applicants being 50 years of age or older, a proven ability to communicate effectively with citizens and law enforcement in a non-confrontational manner, a valid Nevada driver’s license, a willingness to provide 16 hours per month for one year, good health with sufficient mobility to perform assigned duties and an ability to provide their own transportation to the Reno Police Department.