From it’s creation to the present day the Nevada Department of Public Safety Association has traveled a long historical road that is paved with the ideas and dreams of individuals who believed that if we worked hard enough ideas and dreams could actually become a reality. The text before you is by no means the whole story, but is an overall account of the highlights of this great organization. So many individuals have given freely of their time and talents with only the reward of knowing their time and talents have contributed to a better working and personal life for it’s loyal and valued members. Although the Association has enjoyed many successes it has also suffered some set backs. Setbacks yes, however not failures, because to fail means you never tried or simply throw in the towel. Several times the Association was denied, but kept fighting and coming back until we succeeded. Such was the case with the officer injury bill [4800 Time]. It took ten years, but today it is in the law. Hopefully this text will give the reader a better understanding of the NDPSA and some of the key individuals that made major contributions during the past thirty two years. The author deeply regrets if any important issues or notable individuals were missed.
During 1971 an idea was created by a hand full of Nevada Highway Patrolman. Their ranks differed, but the idea was uniform to establish an organization that would create a basic foundation of a fraternal organization that would represent the specific interest and issues of the employees of the Nevada Highway Patrol. In 1972 the first bylaws and articles of incorporation were established. The first President was now retired Major John White. Other notables were, now retired, Sgt. Richard Fliechman, Trooper Ken Alkire, Sgt. Tom Hammill, Chief’s Peter Zadra and Jim Struemph, Sgt. Lyle Boyer, Sgt. Jerry Richards and Sgt. Kay DeNeal. These and others were the founding fathers. Their vision and ideas created a path from a fraternal/ benevolent organization to a highly recognized and respected police labor organization. Although from it’s creation where the NHPA did work with management on similar interest the NHPA was more about social activities and taking care of each other in times of need. In fact, article 13 of the original bylaws specifically prohibited labor activity as we know and enjoy today.
The first test of the NHPA came in August of 1974 when Trooper Jeff Leathley was critically injured during a traffic stop in Washoe Valley just north of Carson City when his patrol car parked behind the violators car on a wide shoulder was hit from behind by a driver who fell asleep. Jeff’s patrol car instantly exploded throwing gas and flames all over Jeff causing second and third degree burns over sixty percent of Jeff’s body. The driver of the vehicle that hit Jeff’s car and a small child seated in the back seat of the violators car were both killed. Jeff was immediately transported to a burn center in California. The NHPA immediately came to Jeff’s aid. Several thousand dollars were raised to assist Jeff and his family. Members and their families also contributed their time to take care of Jeff’s at home needs. The NHPA passed it’s first test with flying colors. Unfortunately over the years the NHPA would be tested several more times, most recently with our now Vice President Bobby Kintzel, who is still recovering from critical injuries sustained from a deliberate act from a fleeing felon.
From 1972 until 1981 the NHPA remained basically a fraternal organization, however several notable things took place. In 1973 our resident artist now retired and past president, Sgt. Tom Hammill designed the first and only Nevada Highway Patrol Ring. The original ring was made of white gold with a clear blue stone displaying the State under the stone. The ring is truly beautiful and is still displayed with honor on the fingers of many past, retired and present members of the Nevada Highway Patrol Association. During 1980 under the leadership of now retired NHPA President John Harney the first NHPA fund raiser was held in Reno. The NHPA entered into a contract with Roy Rayden shows featuring Donald O’Conner. Although the show raised some controversy , Reno members rolled up their sleeves, manned phones and made the show a success raising about five thousand dollars.