By Norman Jahn
Sheriff Gillespie’s denial of retirement credentials is the cruelest
cut of all. It adds insult to injury because officers leave policing
for various reasons. Some resign or retire when they have fallen out
of favor. Some resign or retire while under investigation for minor
misconduct that does not even rise to the level of a DUI or a domestic
violence (both misdemeanor crimes). Some leave to move on to other
jobs or leave the area for family reasons. The LVMPD has a printed
policy on issuance of retirement credentials in the Department Manual.
Does Sheriff Gillespie follow it or does he use the power of his
office to unilaterally get in a ‘parting shot’ and the departing at
I think we could create a long list of people who believe Gillespie
(and other sheriffs) have enjoyed that ‘parting shot.’ I was contacted
by one of them recently and I reached out to several more that I know
to ask them for their input.
It is one thing to lose your job by being ‘involuntarily separated’
(being terminated or fired in plain language) after qualifying for
‘retirement’ under current internal LVMPD policy. I earned and receive
a retirement check from the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System
(PERS) as an officer with 20 or more years of service who has reached
age 50. PERS can not disqualify a participant their retirement check
because they were NOT ‘honorably retired,’ but Sheriff Gillespie
denied me (and many others) our retirement credentials.
It is another thing to ‘separate’ from employment at Metro under
‘normal’ conditions. This would include a resignation (not due to
pending investigations or other duress), medical retirement,
disability retirement, moving on to a different law enforcement
career, etc. Individuals who separate under normal conditions (and who
are eligible under LVMPD policy) should receive their retirement
credentials. But if they are delayed or denied due to ‘politics’ or
‘paybacks’ then what recourse do they have? Can someone who is no
longer employed by the LVMPD get anyone to comply with the policy?
I know of an officer who had a stroke while employed with the LVMPD
for approximately 15 years. He had been a police officer in another
state before he moved to Las Vegas. He had been involved in one fatal
shooting earlier in his career — before I had a chance to meet him and
work with him. After his stroke, he tried valiantly to return to work
after playing Metro ‘rehab games’ and then endured month after month
of Metro’s Medical/Disability merry-go-round. It was determined that
he didn’t ‘multi-task’ well and this was primarily a concern about
whether he could safety drive a police car. Of course Metro is
concerned about ‘liability’ on things like driving, but there seems to
be a large ‘block’ about things like some officers repeatedly being
involved in questionable shootings!
This officer had to give up a large percentage of his disability
retirement check to an attorney. These are the types of attorneys that
have a cozy relationship with the LVMPD bureaucrats and employee
associations so that they can work magic and make employees ‘former’
employees left in the rear-view mirror. This is like a ‘disability
MAFIA’ and I’m glad I never showed interest with the Police Manager’s
& Supervisors Association offered to help me get a ‘stress retirement’
by filling in the boxes on a few forms.
There was (and maybe still is) a big push to get rid of long-term
light duty officers a few years ago. It can be argued that if an
employee cannot perform all of the duties required of the job
classification then they should not be paid full pay for that job. If
this was applied in a consistent manner the word would get out and the
procedure would be followed. The problem is that there are all kinds
of exceptions to how these situations are handled. Some officers,who
have been involved in ‘scandalous’ activity or controversial
incidents, still get to retire on their own terms
Nobody in the media seems to care to report on some of these
‘sensitive’ issues (medical and disability retirements, light duty and
modified duty officers and their pay, etc.). I stand corrected — they
DID want to report on Officer Jesus Arevalo after he was approved for
a ‘medical’ retirement a few years after the fatal shooting of Treyvon
Cole. They apparently do not want to delve into similar matters like
‘medical’ retirements given to lieutenants who have been under
investigation… forgive me for being cynical here but anyone could
look up the names of those lieutenants and as: 1). What type of
‘separation’ is listed at Metro for these employees. 2). Did they get
their ‘retirement credentials’?
The friend and former partner of mine (mentioned above) was denied his
retirement credentials but later met at the sheriff’s office and was
told he ‘might’ get them if he “behaved” or “stayed out of trouble”
for a few years. They even put up a WANTED POSTER of this officer at
the Records Bureau at the new LVMPD Headquarters after he had a
dispute at a doctor’s office and after they arrested him, booked him,
strip searched him, and left him in jail for several days. Charges
were later dropped-but they did this to one of their own officers
because he was a ‘target’ on the long-term light duty list and he
didn’t leave quickly enough.
So what do I mean about RETIREMENT CREDENTIALS at Metro? If you meet
Metro’s inconsistent and inequitable definition of ‘honorably retired’
at the time you pull the plug you get a retirement badge,
identification, and you qualify to carry a concealed weapon
nationwide. The day after I was notified of my termination back in
November of 2011, I went for a walk in Mountain’s Edge with my
daughter. As I returned home I realized that I had a small handgun in
the pocket of my shorts. There are coyotes out in that desert area and
for that and ‘other’ reasons I often carried a weapon. Since I was
involuntarily separated I was not allowed to carry a concealed weapon
on that day and I could have been arrested! Talk about having no
INTENT to commit a crime but just having a massive change to your life
(not just the termination but the denial of rights earned over a
nearly 25-year policing career).
A column by Michael J. Bulsomi, J.D. in the January 2011 edition of
the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin does a good job of explaining the law
as it pertained to retired police officers. Here are some excerpts:
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SAFETY ACT
On July 22, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 218,
the Law Enforcement officers Safety Act (LEOSA), which created a
general nationwide recognition that the public is better served by
allowing law enforcement officers to carry their firearms outside of
their jurisdictions whether they are on or off duty. The theory behind
LEOSA already was recognized among a number of states. That is, law
enforcement officers retain their identity, training, experience, and
dedication to the safety and welfare of the community regardless of
whether they are on duty in their employer’s jurisdiction, going home
to another community, or merely traveling for leisure purposes.
However, the act creates a limited privilege to carry concealed
weapons for law enforcement officers, not a right to bear arms.
Qualification Under LEOSA
LEOSA applies to qualified active duty and retired officers.
Qualification under LEOSA requires employment by or retirement from a
local, state, or federal law enforcement agency as someone charged
with the ability to investigate, prosecute, and arrest people for
violations of law. If an agency has firearms proficiency standards,
the officer must meet them to qualify to carry under this act. The
statute also prohibits carrying firearms when under the influence of
alcohol or any intoxicating or hallucinatory substance. If a current
or retired officer is prohibited by federal law from possessing a
firearm, they are not qualified to carry one under this legislation.
It also is important to note that if an officer is under a
disciplinary action that may result in suspension or termination by
their agency, they are not qualified to carry under this act.
Qualified retired officers must have retired in good standing for
reasons other than mental instability and served at least an aggregate
of 15 years. However, if the retirement was due to a service-related
disability, the officer need only have completed the probationary
period to qualify under this act. Retired officers also must have a
nonforfeitable right to benefits under their agency’s retirement plan.
At personal expense, the retired officer must meet the state standard
for firearms qualification required for active law enforcement
Qualified active duty and retired officers must have photographic
identification issued by the agency they work for or retired from.
Retired officers’ identification must have some indication that they
have been tested or have otherwise been determined by the issuing
agency to meet the standards active officers must meet to carry
concealed weapons. Retired officers do have the option of possessing
the photographic identification with a certification from the state,
rather than their former agency, that they have met the state’s
requirements for active duty officers to carry concealed weapons
within 12 months of the issuing date of the identification.
LEOSA does not give qualified officers any special enforcement or
arrest authority or immunity. It merely allows them to carry concealed
weapons. If these weapons are used, there is no special protection
Qualified officers may find themselves acting only under the authority
of a citizen’s arrest or self-defense claim or under authority
established by the state.
Law enforcement officers know that criminals are never off duty. LEOSA
also is premised on the notion that officers are vulnerable off duty.
Criminals sometimes target them, as well as their families, for harm;
these individuals also know that off-duty officers may be unarmed.
LEOSA allows qualified officers to protect themselves, their families,
and the community by being armed while off duty.
So after reading a succinct summary of the law and seeing the terms
‘qualified officer’ and ‘retired in good standing’ does anyone think
that this could be a subjective decision? There is the Metro
definition (depending on who you are and who you know) then there is
the federal law and the decision on who is ‘qualified — or NOT’ is
most likely going to be deferred to the local sheriff. Back to Sheriff
Duh-G. Sheriff Gillespie is never going to approve for me to be
considered ‘honorably retired’ because I crossed the street band
obviously ‘crossed-him’ and his regime at some point during my second
I will soon be reaching the third year that I have lived life without
Metro retirement credentials that I EARNED and without the right to
carry a concealed weapon. I’ll have to do a little research on the law
in whatever state in end up in… to find out if I would have to
attend the normal ‘citizen’ CCW classes in that state. I was never
paranoid or crazy about being ready for ‘war’ while off duty but it
cuts (many of us) very deep to be denied retirement credentials that
we earned. You feel like you are just kicked to the curb by the
organization that preached so much ‘FAMILY’ and loyalty and dedication
mumbo-jumbo during your career.
I’m sure I will get some feedback (and be able to verify some ‘status’
after this column) but I can’t help but to brainstorm…
Multiple supervisors (a group of lieutenants) left the LVMPD after
media attention due to their involvement in the HOA scandal, alcohol
or drug issues, thefts… did they get their retirement credentials?
Many members of the LVMPD have had DUI or Domestic Violence arrests
during their careers and didn’t lose their jobs. But when they
‘separate’ from the LVMPD do they get their retirement credentials?
You can actually keep your job as a member of the LVMPD after two
DUI’s, and I think I know of one instance where an officer had 3 DUI’s
so how does that compare to those who had the ‘involuntary separation’
box checked when they processed out? Who got the credentials? Who
If you are indicted or convicted of a crime after receiving your
retirement credentials, what happens?
A final ‘cut’ to compare… some officers have significant (thick)
disciplinary files during their careers (some of us didn’t). They
violated policies and/or engaged in various misconduct such as
excessive force (some of us didn’t). So long as they ‘make it’ — 20
years at age 50 or achieve another classification for ‘retirement’ —
they get their retirement credentials… or do they?
I guess it is anybody’s guess as to just how deep that last ‘cut’ will
be and who feels that final blood-letting after they lose their job.
Why? Because Metro guards the medical retirement, disability
retirement, and retirement credentials records as if this information
was in an evidence vault. Secrecy that is not necessary is not good!
I’d like to hear how the two remaining candidates for sheriff feel
about these issues. Are either of them ready to speak up and
investigate this fiasco.
Norm Jahn is a former LVMPD lieutenant, who has also served as a
police chief in Shawano, Wisconsin, and has nearly 25 years of police
experience. Jahn now contributes his opinions and ideas to help
improve policing in general, and in Las Vegas in particular, through
his weekly column in the Las Vegas Tribune.