I was visiting the police union websites recently and noticed that a
‘Gala’ had been planned at the Red Rock Casino, which took place on
July 12. Sheriff Gillespie was going to salute the ‘Best of the Badge’
— whatever that means. Was it just a MUTUAL ADMIRATION EVENT disguised
as a fundraiser by organizations created to give Metro another source
of funding? This event was described as an ‘inaugural dinner’ in one
press release, so maybe this is the first one where an audit should be
presented to the taxpayers. Some cynics might start arguing for Metro
to try to solve their huge budget problems by soliciting donations!
I didn’t see a list of any award winners, and I know that they already
have awards ceremonies on a periodic basis, so I was wondering if this
was something new. The regular awards ceremonies are well attended (by
lots of highly paid command personnel). I surfed the Internet a little
bit further and learned that the Friends of Las Vegas Metropolitan
Police Foundation was the sponsoring organization. They have a website
at www.lvmpdfoundation.org, but I can’t access it at the moment…
maybe it is overloaded with donation activity! The 40-year anniversary
of Metro is a milestone worthy of some recognition… I guess.
I looked at the location of the event, which was the Red Rock Casino
(former sheriff Bill Young’s current employer). The facility was
probably donated — but if Young got the Foundation a 100 percent
‘comp,’ then just what does he expect from the LVMPD when they respond
to his casino? I have already heard a few years’ worth of reports from
regular cops who describe the DEMANDS that are placed upon them by the
Red Rock. I worked the Strip for a half-decade and learned that many
of the ‘other’ hotels were not always satisfied with the ‘customer
service’ or ‘responsiveness’ of the LVMPD.
This might be contrary to popular belief — lots of Las Vegans have the
perception that the Strip gets all of the police protection that they
could ever want and that Metro ignores other parts of town to protect
the Strip, where the doller$ are generated.
This is NOT true. There is a pecking order wherein some hotels get far
superior service than others. One smaller casino across from the
Mirage has been overrun by pimps and prostitutes for years; people
like pimp/death-penalty candidate Ammar Harris used to hang out there
and operated with impunity. Metro Vice spends time at certain hotels
and ignores others. Why?
I next looked at the sponsors for the event. Anyone that wants to surf
the website can see all of the sponsors, but one that caught my eye
was MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS … I guess they are happy to get another
multi-million dollar contract to ‘solve’ the problems of the prior
vendor (Harris Desert Sky/Open Sky/Open Your Wallet).
If anyone wants to look at the website and consider who is donating
money to sponsor things like a 40th Anniversary Gala, or a Memorial
Bike Ride, or individuals and organizations that support LVMPD K-9,
they will see a very professional presentation and advertising with
press releases and all. These might be ‘in-kind’ contributions to
these tax deductible organizations — or not. The sponsors seem to also
show up on Sheriff Gillespie’s campaign contribution reports over the
years. We are, after all, one big happy family — IF we are accepted
INTO the family.
Donations are accepted for ‘equipment’ and to support the LVMPD
Explorer program and other programs. I don’t think that this should be
prohibited, but where are the records and checks and balances and
transparency and accountability? Where is the media scrutiny about the
LVMPD Foundation? How much money is being raised? How is it being
spent? Who is earning a salary for being affiliated with this or other
With the current budget crisis, who can blame Metro (or other police
departments across the country) for trying to come up with some extra
money that simply is not in the budget and that won’t be coming from
increased taxes (i.e., more COPS). Police departments seek out grant
funding and money donated to other tax-exempt organizations. If the
only thing that the donors received was a tax write-off, that would be
OK…but if they expect ‘special’ service for being ‘special’ friends
with Sheriff Duh-G, then ‘regular’ people who don’t have the money to
contribute have to settle for what is offered.
Might this ‘regular’ service pertain to regular response times? Might
some people get special or superior service and response times? Where
were the police officers on the Strip when the pimp shooting occurred?
Has anyone ever examined the records for unit status and response
capability for 4:30 a.m. on the Strip?
I also have wondered why it took 7-8 minutes for the police to arrive
in Sanford, Florida to protect either Trayvon Martin or George
Zimmerman before the shot was fired. A neighborhood watch observer
calling in a suspicious person is not a high priority event…it is
not a felony in progress. The matter escalated with subsequent phone
calls from citizens when they heard the attack taking place outside
their homes. Even then, the ‘shot fired’ is what caused the police to
finally be put on high alert and arrive on the scene. What if this
housing complex in Sanford, Florida was affluent and made regular
contributions to the police ‘foundation’ in the area?
The question is whether it is ethical for police to create
organizations for fundraising and whether this impacts SERVICE. The
old ‘gratuity’ question comes to the surface again. What does a
business expect in return for free meals or other discounts for
police? More importantly, what do they expect when they donate large
amounts of money to SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL POLICE?
I’m afraid that this arrangement for fundraising needs to be monitored
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.