Reno opens nationwide job search for new police chief

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto will retire at the end of the year.

On September 6, the city opened a nationwide search for his successor.

In an interview, the Reno Gazette Journal asked Soto what qualities his replacement should bring to the job. More than anything, he said, the new leader must be approachable.

“I don’t think we could start this conversation without talking about a police chief who has a very good relationship with his community,” Soto said.

With the Reno Police Department for 25 years, Soto has served as chief for nearly eight years. He got the top job in the department in 2015, he said, because he’s a “guy from Reno.” But at the time it was considered an unconventional acting leader – a syndicate leader with no formal command experience.

“(Community relations) are not things that happen,” he said. “There has to be a foundation. There has to be some history.”

Related:Reno Police Chief Jason Soto is retiring at the end of 2022 after a quarter century with the department

Track Reno Changes

Logistically, he said, Reno needs a police chief who can keep up with the city’s growth.

“(Reno is) a 24-hour city, so the police approach is probably a little different than some other communities,” he said. “The three shifts are comparative in terms of call volume and service calls.

Urban growth, he added, is draining public safety resources. When Soto joined the force in 1997, Reno had a population of about 100,000. The police had 55 square miles to cover. Both numbers have nearly tripled since then.

“You have to be really strategic in how you want to deploy your department,” Soto said.

What the city is looking for

In a press release, City Manager Doug Thornely said the city is looking for a forward-thinking, community-focused candidate.

Norma Santoyo, director of the city’s human resources department, said the city needs someone who can fill Soto’s boots and continue its “model of excellence in policing.”

Here’s the catch – the city outsourced the recruiting process to Ralph Andersen & Associates, an executive search firm. Reno will only consider finalist applicants recommended by Andersen. Santoyo said the city’s HR won’t even consider any applications until the application window closes on Nov. 11.

As for Soto, he said he would stay as long as necessary, although he is excited about his retirement plans.

“I’m going to take a few months and really spend time with my family. In that role, unfortunately or fortunately, you can’t really disconnect,” he said. “I’m going to stay in Reno for sure. Reno is my home.

How to apply – or comment

Interested candidates can view the Chief of Police job posting here:

Reno residents interested in providing their input on what the city should prioritize when hiring a new chef can take a survey here:

Brandon D. James