State OKs extra protection for first family

CARSON CITY — The state is adding more protection for Nevada’s new first family because it includes three children.

The Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved hiring an additional police officer to protect Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval and his family when he takes office Jan. 3.

Another police officer, part of the dignity protection service, will be transferred from the governor’s office in Las Vegas to add further protection for the family at least through the legislative session.

“I am not at liberty to say how we will protect the family,” Department of Public Safety Director Jerry Hafen said . “We felt it was necessary to beef up security at least to the level that occurred when Bob Miller was governor.”

In particular, he refused to answer questions on how the three Sandoval children will be protected.

The decision to spend $105,000 to hire the additional officer, purchase a vehicle and equipment was made unanimously by the board.

Initial plans had called for spending $325,000 to hire three additional officers to protect Sandoval, his wife and their school-age children. In a letter to the board, the Department of Public Safety said three officers were hired in the 1990s to protect Miller and his family, which also included three children.

Mary-Sarah Kinner, Sandoval’s press secretary, said the Department of Public Safety did a risk assessment and determined the three extra police were needed. But after talking with Sandoval, Hafen said they decided one would be sufficient.

Sandoval probably will not visit Las Vegas often during the legislative session, so an officer there can be sent to Carson City at least through June 30, Hafen said. When Sandoval does visit Las Vegas in coming months, he will be accompanied by one of the officers.

Hafen said his staff monitors national events and state situations and can bolster the protection for the first family when necessary.

Kinner said Sandoval did not receive any threats during the gubernatorial campaign, but did during his four years as a federal judge. He didn’t provide any details.

Secretary of State Ross Miller was one of the board members to approve the expenditure, along with Gov. Jim Gibbons and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Miller, the son of former Gov. Bob Miller, said he could not recall any security officers, other than one assigned to his father, when he lived in the Governor’s Mansion. For much of the time, he was attending Carson High School. Miller said no security officer accompanied him to school or any of his activities.

He said people could simply walk up and knock on the front door of the mansion, on a tree-lined neighborhood west of the state Capitol.

Sandoval’s three children will attend their schools in Reno for the remainder of the school year. His wife, Kathleen, also intends to continue her job as program director for the Children’s Cabinet in Reno.

A decision about whether the children will transfer to Carson City schools during the next school year has not been made. The family has a home in northwest Reno.

Miller said he respected the Department of Public Safety’s judgment and decided that additional security is needed.

He said there are already four police officers based in the Governor’s Mansion, which in recent years was equipped with cameras and security devices.

The secretary of state said he remembers someone threw a rock through a window in the mansion when his father talked about taxing mining and that Gov. Miller received death threats when he cut state spending.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

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