By Det. Gordon Martines
Proverbs are like other traditions: they owe their longevity to how
easy it is to reinterpret what they mean.
Take the one about “a few bad apples” — the reflexive defense whenever
Misconduct surfaces in the midst of some organization. Or, how about
this one: “Sometimes one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel”; or
this one: a ‘Bad Apple’ is someone or something that ruins everything
In life there are good apples and bad apples. Thankfully there are
more good apples than bad ones, but sometimes the bad ones leave their
mark on the good ones, especially when the bad ones are in upper power
positions inside an organization that the general public depends on
Recently quite a bit of bad publicity has emerged related to our
beloved Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Accusations that to most are unthinkable, referring to such things as
police department cover-ups related to unsolved murders.
Let’s look at our beloved LVMPD as the barrel. Now, let’s look at the
police officers who patrol the 8,000 square miles of Clark County,
Nevada, which of course includes the city of Las Vegas, as the apples
inside this barrel.
The Sheriff who heads up the LVMPD is the man in charge of all the
apples inside the barrel. He is responsible to make sure all the
apples inside the barrel follow the letter of the law and, at the same
time, he must do all he can to prevent one rotten apple from spoiling
all the other apples.
On the other hand, if one or more rotten apples happen to be sitting
on top of the barrel, that could tend to ruin all the apples under it.
Now comes the news media that puts out stories causing the general
public to begin to doubt their beloved police department and the
hard-working officers who put their lives on the line every day to
protect and serve.
It’s no easy job being sheriff, especially here in Clark County where
the Sheriff of the County is also the Chief of Police of the city.
This brings to mind another saying: “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.”
It is all a matter of choosing the right person with the right kind of
character that has the right kind of moral fiber, strength, tenacity,
and loyalty to the Oath of Law Enforcement, and to the Constitution of
the United States of America.
It has always been pretty easy to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and
not really understand or appreciate the real meaning of the words. It
is also pretty easy to recite the Sacred Oath of Law Enforcement,
which I have recited twice in my lifetime, with 39 years of Law
Enforcement experience behind me. I can tell you this: each word was
taken very seriously by me and I am gratified that I have never broken
that Oath; nor have I ever intended to break, nor will I even consider
breaking, that sacred Oath.
For the most part, I want to believe… I need to believe… that most
of our fine police officers believe as I do: that serving your
community, obeying your Oath to Law Enforcement and Pledging
Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America is uppermost to
the mindset of Law Enforcement Service.
A survey was conducted on our armed forces who were posed with this
question: If ordered to, by your commander in chief, to use deadly
force if necessary against American Civilians, to disarm and
confiscate their firearms, would you obey? To my shock and disbelief,
25 percent of our armed military forces said they would obey.
If that same question was posed to the police officers of our
community, I would like to think… I would hope and pray… that
maybe only one to two percent would buy into that line of thinking and
obey such an illegal order as that. God forbid that it would be even
Much negativity has been spread with a wide brush on the reputation
and activities of the LVMPD. One needs to understand the “Bad Apple”
Proverb and not condemn and doom the entire “barrel.”
I have spent almost two thirds of my life working in the Law
Enforcement Service mostly in the trenches, dealing with and against
the dregs of society. There have been some bumps in the road, mostly
dealing with corruption and avarice from the support staff, and my own
personal family sacrifices and medical issues, but all in all I would
not have changed a thing or change my course, direction and attitude.
I highly recommend this as a career; you will never find a more
My overall opinion is that “LVMPD street cops” are the best in the
country: the best trained, best equipped, and best qualified to handle
anything that comes down the pike.