There seems to be a common attitude among some government leaders. If one stays quiet long enough and refuses to address an issue, eventually the citizenry will tire and move onto the next crisis. Another vehicle verse horse accident occurred this week and we just can’t stay quiet because of the value placed on human life.
Our district Assemblywoman Dr. Robin Titus needs to be commended this week. She reached out to the Sheriff’s Office and is attempting to force state bureaucracies to the table to develop lifesaving solutions. Legislative oversight is necessary and why the LCSO opposed the Nevada Division of Agriculture’s December decision to attempt a transfer of horse ownership from state control to a non-profit organization. We doubt such a transfer will occur because of necessary financial support, civil liabilities and ability to obtain adequate insurance.
If the state’s plan is to show that no organization wants to accept control so they can then begin large scale herd reduction via “round ups,” then tell us. However, we cannot continue to wait another 6, 12, or 18 more months before action is taken. The Sheriff’s Office has been talking about this issue for the past three years as we continuously watched the problem grow. Lives have been shattered on State Route 50, which includes the ambulance verse horse accident in 2015.
This is an emotionally charged discussion by both sides with what to do with the horses. We can agree that the first step is keeping the horses off the highway to ensure public safety. Good driving habits are important and help reduce accidents, but even the best of drivers still hit horses.
NRS 569.040 makes it illegal to feed these state-owned horses by private citizens. However, the first time a person is caught, it cannot be cited as a crime because of the way the law is written. The person has to be warned and if they are caught a second time, it becomes a gross misdemeanor that is punishable up to one year in the county jail. On Three separate occasion this month, someone has been illegally dumping bales of hay at the Dayton cemetery parking lot. We are in the process of attempting to put up cameras in order to catch those dumping hay on public lands.
Lyon County Code 7.01.05 makes it illegal to place water within 1,500 feet of the highway right of way of U.S. Highways 50, 95, 95A, 208, 341, 342 and 339 unless the area is securely fenced to prevent the animals from wandering into the highway right of way.
Illegally feeding and watering these horses is only a small part of the overall problem. We are issuing guidance to our staff to be a part of solution by educating the public and deterring illegal feeding and watering of state owned horses on private and public lands. If they are caught feeding, they will be warned. If they are caught a second time, they could be subject to arrest. If water tanks are found within 1,500 feet of the highways listed above without security fencing, a criminal complaint will be asked from the District Attorney’s Office.
And finally, on a more positive note, our insurance carrier Nevada POOL awarded us a $30,000 training grant to launch an eight-year, web-based ethics and leadership training program for all of our employees. The program is endorsed by the National Sheriff’s Association and many large agencies have already launched similar programs. Once implemented, our employees will be required each year to complete one of the four phases, which include topics such as community diversity; cultural differences as it relates to gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation; conflict de-escalation; and the ethical decision-making process.
We interviewed agencies in South Dakota and Louisiana who spoke highly of this program, saying it is making a difference in the way their employees think and how they interact with the public.
As always, keep the faith.