ACLU of Nevada chief resigns

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada’s chief is stepping down in January, citing personal reasons, the organization announced Monday.

Executive Director Dane Claussen will remain the face of the organization until Jan. 31, but he wouldn’t say what he is doing next.

"Things are fine," Claussen said. "I’m just resigning for personal reasons."

In his two years at the helm, Claussen oversaw an ACLU chapter that helped push police accountability issues into the spotlight. In December the organization, with the NAACP of Las Vegas, formally petitioned the U.S. Department of Justice for a civil rights investigation of the Metropolitan Police Department.

While federal authorities haven’t publicly announced such an investigation, they did release a study of the agency this month that included 75 findings and recommendations designed to result in fewer officer-involved shootings. Many of those were adopted from the ACLU of Nevada’s recommendations.

"We’ve certainly accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of what the Nevada affiliate has accomplished in my tenure here," Claussen said.

Claussen and his organization also worked with Las Vegas police on issues from officer cameras and changes to the department’s use of force policies. They’ve also monitored medical care at the Ely State Prison and voter protection during last month’s elections.

Claussen took over in January 2011, after longtime Executive Director Gary Peck stepped down.

The former journalist had been the director of graduate programs in journalism and mass communication at Point Park University in Pittsburgh since 2001.

His departure comes just before the Nevada Legislature meets in February. In the past session, the civil rights advocacy group was involved in 145 bills.

"The ACLU is definitely going to be very busy there," Claussen said.

The organization’s board of directors will name his replacement before he leaves.

"I’ll be doing my job as usual until my last day here," he said. "We’ll have an orderly transition."

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 405-9781.

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