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What’s in a name? Ask the Nevada State Police

Updated November 24, 2021 - 10:06 am

The Department of Public Safety is changing its name to Nevada State Police, officials announced Tuesday.

“There has been some confusion with the Department of Public Safety, especially all the way down to the line level,” Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka told the Review-Journal in a meeting Tuesday. “State troopers will make stops and literally have people say ‘you can’t give me a ticket, we’re not on the highway.’ We are state police with enforcement authority across the state.”

Residents can still call *NHP to reach a highway patrol dispatchers. Andrew Bennet with the Office of Traffic Safety said the change comes at no cost to taxpayers.

The cars will slowly be equipped with a new logo as older vehicles are retired.

While troopers typically serve as traffic officers in Las Vegas, Smaka said state police serve as traditional police officers in more rural communities with fewer resources, such as Pioche, Indian Springs and rural parts of Elko.

When Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Jenkins was shot on March 27, 2020, just north of Ely on U.S. Highway 93, the nearest trooper drove at 100 mph and took about 30 minutes to get to the dying officer.

Trooper Ashlee Wellman said the department is hoping the change will aid in recruitment of new officers.

Thirty-five troopers left the agency in 2020, and as of September, another 57 had departed so far this year. From 2017 to 2020, 17 percent of state officers who departed left for jobs with other city or county law enforcement agencies, the State police said in September.

“One of the goals of this is to simplify for recruits what they’re joining,” Smaka said. “In an effort to clarify and let people know that the majority of divisions within state police now are law enforcement entities.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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