Nevada Guard Emphasizes Activation Is Not `Martial Law’

Governor Activated Guard Last Week

Associated Press
April 06, 2020 - 5:16 am
Emblem of the Nevada National Guard

Nevada National Guard/Twitter

RENO, Nev. (AP) — State and federal officials are finalizing details of Nevada National Guard role in the statewide response to the coronavirus, but they’re emphasizing the mission won’t include martial law.

Brig. Gen. Mike Hanifan, the guard commander, used social media to dispel a rumor that Gov. Steve Sisolak’s activation of the Guard this week means soldiers will enforce civilian laws.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Martial law is defined as law administered by military force. The governor has not handed over law enforcement duties or powers to the Nevada National Guard.” 

Sisolak activated the Guard on Wednesday for logistical planning and delivery of medical supplies ahead of an expected spike in patients with the respiratory illness.

Duties also likely will include security at testing sites, managing food banks and disinfecting public spaces. Guardsmen also could assist in medical screening, help provide security of federal property and run traffic-control points, Hanifan said.

At least 43 people have died and more than 1,500 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Nevada. 

Sisolak said the Guard may help distribute some of the more than 2 million protective masks Las Vegas casino resorts have donated to the state.

Officials about 100 soldiers and airmen would begin active duty Friday and some should be in local communities by Tuesday. The troops will be paid from federal funds.

Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada’s adjutant general, said more could be added. The National Guard includes about 3,100 soldiers and 1,200 airmen.

The governor has activated the National Guard each New Year’s Eve since the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help patrol the Las Vegas Strip. 

Nevada’s Guard regularly is deployed overseas, but the most recent non-New Year’s activation within the state was March 2017 when 140 troops responded to flooding north of Reno with federal disaster funding similar to what’s expected to occur now, said 1st Lt. Emerson Marcus, Nevada Guard historian.