Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 | 5:20 p.m.
The Nevada Highway Patrol can save more than $7 million by reducing its excess vehicles and closing the patrol's dispatch office in Elko, an executive audit recommends.
But the state Division of Internal Audits says its recommendations would take time to carry out.
The audit says the patrol has 430 sworn officers with an authorization of 485. But it has 595 patrol vehicles.
The report suggests a 20 to 30 percent reduction in vehicles with the patrol retaining 416 to 474 cars. "Reducing the fleet size could save the Nevada Highway Patrol up to $7.2 million in one-time savings and save up to $1.8 million annually," said audit.
The timetable for reducing the vehicle fleet and managing the inventories should be completed by 2015, the audit suggested.
Closing the Elko dispatch center calls for transferring four of its 16 employees to Reno. The command headquarters in Reno and Las Vegas can communicate statewide.
The target date for closing Elko is July 2017.
Chris Perry, director of the state Department of Public Safety, said it was doubtful this closure could be ready for consideration of the 2013 Legislature but it will be evaluated for the 2015 session.
Perry said the highway patrol will outline its concerns and issues in reducing the number of vehicles. He said a plan will be presented by the end of the year for a three-phase reduction.
The audit, released last Thursday, also recommended patrol vehicles be equipped with mobile data computers.
"Patrol troopers may be at greater risk without the mobile data computer system," said the report. "During high volumes of radio transmissions in the Southern Region, troopers reported they had to wait their turn to talk.
"A few troopers have reportedly been on foot pursuit and other potentially dangerous situations without the ability to communicate due to the high volume of radio transmissions," said the audit.
A benefit of having the mobile computers installed in the patrol cars is they will be able to receive text, identification pictures, driver's license information, vehicle registrations and warrants. And it provides the ability to locate the position of the officers.
Perry said work has been under way for the mobile computers, but "it is likely that this project would not be considered before the 2016-17 biennium."