Reprint of memo dated 8/10/08
First of all, thanks to Officer Rundell and Officer Beza who have been involved in preparing the SAFE STRIP STATS on Sunday night every weekend! We are able to capture most, but not 100 percent, of our activity due to late arrests and the occasional missing stat sheet.
I wanted to point out one other aspect of the Crime & Police Activity on the Strip. We now have 10 (or more) hotels/nightclubs using Special Events officers to provide security. On any given weekend, we probably have 20 additional officers working inside the hotels on the Strip and they are being paid for by the hotels. We are also seeing quite a few overtime officers working weeknights when the nightclubs have their ‘locals’ nights. I am not aware of anyone capturing the police activity (especially enforcement actions) taken by these officers in any formal report. O.T. officers call in to dispatch for event numbers and these events are logged in CAD. We see these events on our MCT’s as they are created at the hotels. O.T. officers usually handle the entire event and we would become involved if there was a need for a transport to jail. I’m sure that if there was a summary of the activity of these officers this would help us to provide a more accurate picture of crime on the Strip. This might be something that we can obtain from Special Events in the form of a summary report because I know the officers have to call in to secure and leave details of unusual/important incidents.
I saw on last week’s Action Minutes that a total of 14 firearms have been recovered on the Strip so far this summer. I’m not sure if that includes the two guns that overtime officers recovered at Caesars Palace a couple of weeks ago or any of the other work done by O.T. officers that is directly related to the Las Vegas Strip and its safety. Caesars also arrested a female prostitute for 420 (the German man found in his SUV in Southern Highlands). I hope we are not losing track of the very serious/solid police work that is being done/can be done by overtime officers that are hired to patrol parking garages, ‘sweep’ casinos, and monitor nightclubs such as Poetry at the Forum Shops. This is a compliment to the officers working Special Events
A few years ago we would try to walk thru casinos (i.e., Caesars and Mandalay Bay and the MGM) and we were amazed at how many thugs were hanging out inside and how much they were bothering patrons. Some of the hotel security supervisors that I work with have told me that the shootings in or at the Casinos (i.e., Caesars garage elevators and in front of O’Sheas/Margaritaville) prompted them to try to improve safety by regularly hiring Metro. We now know from recent Action Minutes that there are supposedly a large number of pimps frequenting the nightclubs – I’m not sure if we are pushing some of them off the streets but there are literally hundreds of these characters. I think the gang experts will share that there is a merging or crossover between some of the gang activity and the pandering/prostitution enterprises. We know for a fact that some of our hardcore prostitutes that are involved in thefts (such as pickpocketing) are regular customers at the finest nightclubs in Las Vegas. This gives them access to lots of victims and lots of money and property to steal. Tourist Safety (Sgt. Aguilard and Det. Donelson) are really helping us to deal with these crimes.
I am thrilled to see the extra personnel and resources focused on the Strip since I transferred back to SCAC about 8 weeks ago. After I came back I got to see the BEFORE & AFTER picture. We are absolutely making an impact now! Hundreds of stops are being made on the streets (now) and we are making our presence known by being more active on the pedestrian bridges. The pedestrian bridges save lives from being lost due to traffic accidents – but they are a haven for crime because they are difficult to access without being spotted by drug dealers, pimps, and thugs. The pedestrian bridges were virtually unpoliced for hours or entire shifts at times in the past and there is not a single hotel that has any high quality video of the activity on the bridges. No one is really in a good position or responsible for making sure the bridges are safe! The hotels have helped when we call them but they have told me that this is ‘not their property’ so they are not responsible for it. We have to try to keep them from disassociating themselves from the bridges and encourage them to report all disturbances and problems that they see with either their cameras or that is seen by their security officers. We have to encourge them to report this even if we can’t respond right away.
We could really use fixed police cameras on these bridges. Some of the incidents that have occurred on these bridges is very troubling, i.e., the savage group attack/beating that occurred on the Bally’s to Bellagio bridge on June 8th. The victims never reported this to the police but Bally’s did capture it on video. The COPS TV crew was with me a few years ago and they also got great video of a pimp ‘sweating’ a prostitute on the Bills to Bally’s bridge. The pimps are able to isolate the girls (sometimes they are tourists and not prostitutes) on the bridges in the early morning hours and the victims have no one to help them. When we are able to witness this on the sidewalks or the bridges in the early morning hours (all the way up until 0600-0700) we have been able to make DISORDERLY CONDUCT arrests and the District Attorney’s office has given us an OK to make these arrests even if we don’t have a victim name or a voluntary statement. Watching some of this stuff is very troubling and, personally, makes me very angry. We have also videotaped drug dealers and even more recent harassment and disorder on the pedestrian bridges and I’ve asked the hotels to ‘record’ any of this disorder to help us to be aware that it is occurring and to give us some evidence so that we might be able follow up and make arrests later.
GOOD NEWS – When I worked graveyard SCAC up until the time I was promoted in May of 2007, we had 3 or 4 Mary units for the entire Strip! The overtime officers assigned on weekends and to the nightclubs on locals night did not exist until Caesars Palace started hiring us approximately two years ago. Today, there are more officers assigned to the ‘regular’ (Mary, Nora, Ida squads). Today we have the Bike/Enduro squads (originally SC38 and now known as SC15 and SC16) providing another layer of personnel to be almost entirely proactive from 1900-0500 hours.
In the ‘old’ days, we tried using a report car to allow us to stack and then handle the ‘in-custody’ calls at the hotels while trying to find a way to allow the other officers to try to be proactive but we could not keep up with the demand. Calls were held for hours and hours and this caused problems between us and the hotels. I believe the Strip started getting out of control during that period of time. I would run into hard core criminals and gang members like Willie Golden and Benny Jernigan on the strip either selling drugs/fake drugs or bothering the females. They apparently found it to be less challenging and less dangerous to be ‘active’ on the Las Vegas Strip than in their own neighborhoods on the old west side. Thank goodness we are turning the momentum back in our favor and we are starting to reclaim the Strip and restore some order.
We can still make great improvements by working closer with hotel security and improving communication and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities. I think this will happen with the opening of the CCAC and officers developing a sense of OWNERSHIP for the Strip. We have seen positive results from Safe Strip because we stress the importance of maintaining safety order on the Strip and we emphasize to officers from other area commands to be assertive and proactive and to have fun taking thugs off the streets before they commit crimes. When we move to CCAC it is going to be important to stay PROACTIVE (foot patrols on the sidewalks and crosswalks) and not revert to simply handling one call after another at the hotels (mostly related to in-custody prostitutes) or we could lose the ground we have gained. Several hotels [are] very proficient at the S.I.L.A. program and that saves us from responding to those hotels. Some of the hotels have implemented a ‘one hour rule’ where they release the person(s) they have detained if Metro cannot arrive to handle the call within an hour. This policy has some positive and negative aspects. We can work with the hotels on other improvements that will help us to be more effective and to prioritize our efforts.
Bottom line – I just wanted to make sure that all of the criminal activity/disorder and enforcement being handled by Special Events officers does not get ignored because it is a very important part of the big picture of crime and disorder on the Strip. When we have all of the resources working together and improve coordination and communication (even if it is just making SCAC officers aware of the two guns recovered at Caesars) we will have a better handle on the magnitude of the problems associated with policing the Strip. The extra help is great and is making a difference. It motivates us to work even harder when we can see our RESULTS and we know that we don’t always have to be outnumbered and overwhelmed.
Thank You for the support!