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November 23, 2014

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Cops, bailiffs and jail guards: Dissecting Nevada’s officer categories

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Steve Marcus

Recruit Edwardo Garcia practices a safe fall during defensive training at the Las Vegas Metro Police Corrections Academy Tuesday, June 12, 2012. The academy is seeing more applicants from a variety of backgrounds - not just criminal justice majors and former members of the military, officials say.

Updated Saturday, March 8, 2014 | 5:23 p.m.

Not all Nevada officers are created equal.

Depending on their training, some have the skills and authority to arrest people and carry out car chases, while others are more apt to perform duties within a jail or prison.

Nevada’s Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission designates three categories of officers based on the duties they are required to perform in the Silver State’s myriad law enforcement agencies.

Although individual agencies can — and many do — create additional requirements for recruits, all officers must abide by POST’s basic set of standards.

Want to know which category courtroom bailiffs or jail guards fall into? Read ahead for a brief explainer from POST Deputy Director Tim Bunting, UNLV Police spokesman Hobreigh Fischer and Clark County School District Police Det. Thomas Rainey:

    • A typical Nevada cop — like, say, a Metro patrol officer — is a Category 1 peace officer. These are bona fide police: They can arrest people, carry department-issued firearms, and conduct vehicle pursuits.

      Training for this category is the most rigorous compared to that of other types of peace officers — some of that additional coursework focuses on operating an emergency vehicle. Becoming a POST-qualified Category 1 peace officer usually requires attending an academy for six months or more with a minimum of 480 hours of training.

      Municipal and university police agencies in the state only hire Category 1 peace officers. Sheriff’s deputies, too, must meet Category 1 requirements.

    • Category 2 officers — who are not technically police officers, but rather “special peace officers” — basically have the same responsibilities and powers as Category 1 officers. Becoming one, however, requires considerably less time and training, which means fewer agencies accept this type of officer.

      A cadet can graduate from a Category 2 academy within three months after about 200 hours of class time.

      You’ll find this type of officer at school districts, community colleges, and courtrooms. Category 2 officers also work for the Gaming Control Board, the Nevada Transportation Authority, the Office of the Inspector General and the state’s Department of Agriculture.

      While the state only requires Category 2 certification for officers employed by the Clark County School District Police Department, most actually meet Category 1 requirements. The department’s jurisdiction encompasses all school campuses and can spill outside those boundaries if a crime is committed on the way to or from school.

    • Jail and prison guards are Category 3 officers. The training period for them is relatively short and less rigorous than that of Category 1 and Category 2 officers, but because a corrections job is vastly different, Category 3 certification cannot be substituted with either of the other two variations.

      That means, for example, that if a Metro cop decides to quit the force to go work for a jail, he or she still has to carry out Category 3 training.

      Many correctional facilities, including the Clark County Detention Center, have their own academy where cadets can work while meeting this requirement, Bunting said.

      POST requires about two months and 160 hours worth of classes that focus on handling inmates. Most Category 3 academies are in Carson City.

      “It’s almost like they get on-the-job training,” Bunting said.

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