Kirkland and troopers union call truce in verbal war

Public Safety Director Richard Kirkland and members of the Nevada Highway Patrol Association have called a truce to their verbal war.

Trooper association Director Greg Johnson said Wednesday the troopers' union "will attempt to resolve the current issues directly with the office of the chief under the guidelines set forth in (Nevada Administrative Code) and (the Nevada Revised Statutes)."

Association leaders met with Kirkland on Tuesday afternoon and worked out the arrangement.

"Everyone at the table agrees that discussing these issues in the media is neither productive or appropriate," Kirkland said in his statement.

Kirkland said more meetings will be held between the association and his staff in the future.

The latest battle between the groups centers on Kirkland's quest to find the source of rumors in the highway patrol saying he is planning to resign from the office. He has several times denied any plans to resign even though he has told more than one person in the Washoe district attorney's office, Reno police and Washoe sheriff's department that he was considering just that because of frustrations with the state system and its red tape.

The battle heated up when he put union president Trooper Stewart Handte on administrative leave investigating, among other things, allegations that Handte was spreading "malicious" rumors that Kirkland was about to resign and that Handte had distributed copies of a confidential list of 41 troopers labeled as "Habitual Repeat Sworn Employees." The list was prepared by Kirkland and NHP Col. David Hosmer, but nowhere on the document does it say the material is confidential.

NHP business secretary Gary Wolff said at the time many of those on the list regarded it as a "hit list."

The association, in return, had asked Kirkland be investigated for violations such as giving his wife a ride in his official car.

Both sides agreed Tuesday the sniping at each other should stop.

"Internal Affairs matters have always been confidential and it was agreed they should remain confidential," Johnson said in a prepared statement.

But that doesn't mean the disputes will stop. Handte is still on administrative leave as is at least one other trooper and more than a dozen troopers have been called in as Kirkland tries to track down the source of the rumors he may soon leave the director's post.


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