Kevin McReynolds stands with Chief of Police Adam Garcia at Coffee with Cop on March 13, 2018. McReynolds started the nonprofit to encourage students to become polic officers.

After being involved in a racially charged incident with University Police Services last year, UNR student Kevin McReynolds is starting a nonprofit organization to encourage diversity within local police stations.

McReynolds found himself at the heart of the university’s diversity issues when a UNR police officer joked about shooting McReynolds during a routine traffic stop on campus last semester. The incident was recorded on body camera footage and the video was released to the public the week following the traffic stop.

Since then, McReynolds has been working with the administration and police to ensure the university is inclusive to all students, and their voices are heard — from hosting town hall events to starting his nonprofit, The McReynolds Project.

“Instead of harping on my experience, I wanted to create something positive from everything that happened to me,” McReynolds said. “I believe that healthy, thriving communities need to be protected by people who represent them, in race, culture and in value.”

The priority of the project is to help people of diverse backgrounds get involved with law enforcement programs in the Reno-Tahoe, and eventually, across the country, according to its website.

“[The McReynolds Project] will recruit minority students to top criminal justice programs, provide information and support for individuals interested in criminal justice, and spread awareness about the connection between diversity and healthy community-police relations,” said the website. “By recruiting locally and diversely, we hope to see an improvement in police-community relations and a reduction in negative race-related incidents.”

McReynolds set up a donation website to fund the project and is asking for $140,000 in the first round of fund-raising. The majority of the money — $100,000 — will be allocated to scholarships for students pursuing criminal justice. The rest will be split evenly between creating school programs to raise awareness of the program and its goals, and the overhead fund to operate the program.

If the project raises more money than expected, it’s primary target-area will expand beyond Reno into neighboring cities and programs. If it does not meet its first-round goals, the project will continue on and raise awareness in the local area.

McReynolds has worked closely with UNRPD since his incident. The department will be one of the beneficiaries of the program.

“I am honored to support The McReynolds Project, which aims to foster dialogue between diverse groups and law enforcement through recruitment of minority students to enter the policing profession,” said UNRPD Chief Adam Garcia. “I applaud Mr. McReynolds, whose vision is bound to have a direct impact on this community for generations to come.”

The project’s board is comprised of local community leaders such as Dr. Angie Taylor, who is on the Washoe County Board of Trustees and also joined the university’s Office of Diversity as a consultant. Other board members include Gregory C. Mosier, Dean of the College of Business, Lafayette Webb from the Washoe County Sherriff’s Office and Gregg Colvin, an advisor of McReynold’s.

Visit The McReynolds Project (website no longer available) to find out more about the project and its mission.