By Thomas A Nagy
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
Part Seven of a Series
Recent news articles have revealed that Las Vegas’ body count of murder victims has reached 71 as of July 20. Number 71 was a woman found in her home after the arrest of her killer, a 54-year-old man who confessed with remorse in Los Angeles days after the killing.
Three other mysterious murders happened the same week. A 23-year-old woman was shot in her chest while sitting in a car parked at a 7-Eleven talking with a man; the killer drove up, shot her once, and both men fled the scene. That same day a 23-year-old man was shot in his home in a gated community; no one else was at home, and his body was later discovered upstairs. The body of a 34-year-old woman was found on Fairchild Street early in the morning days later. In less than one week, at least four murders had been added to the growing list of unsolved crimes.
During this same period we hear whining by those in law enforcement about the increasing dangers of being a cop on the streets in Clark County. Some have been complaining for years that being an officer does not pay enough, and more money is needed to hire more police officers for streets and special units. Apparently we need to beef up units like Homeland Security local involvement, Fusion Centers, and Counter-Terrorism task forces?
Neither of these perpetual requests proposed by a Clark County sheriff now or that may be proposed in the near future are likely to affect the increasing rate of violent acts in this community. It has been years since a prevailing trend took root in Nevada and its largest city. This state was known, in 2010, to have a rate of violent crime 57 percent higher than the national average. As in all things Nevadan, Las Vegas had to outdo the rest of the state.
This city’s rate of violent crime was 22 percent higher than the state average, placing it 79 percent above the national average. Four years later the trend to outpace national rates for violent crimes continues to rise. As of June 19, 2014 the number of murders here exceeded the 2013 rate by 13 percent, if projected annually, yet the rate would be higher if taken as a snapshot. By June 19, 2013 there were 52 known homicides; by the same date this year there were 62 registered. That means that there were 19.23 percent more homicides this year than last year. At the current rate we can expect another 61 homicides to occur this year, give or take a couple, exceeding 130.
Sadly, quite a number of these murders will not be solved. At least 57 percent of all murders remain unsolved in this community, adding to a growing number of unsolved crimes “collecting dust” in police headquarters. This also means that the number of surviving victims of these crimes continues to grow. More people, friends and relatives of homicide victims, are added to the number that seek justice and closure but are denied this basic right year after year.
A quick look at Transparent Nevada tells us that the average police officer receives a base salary above $80,000 per year. With perks and other benefits, it costs taxpayers close to $200,000 each year to keep Officer Average employed. That is not enough for many; they are demanding more, as if receiving more will make this community safer.
It is not an unrelated coincidence that this state ranks at the bottom when it comes to education. It should not surprise anyone that high school teachers rarely break $80,000 in base salaries, and with a total benefit package averaging just above $20,000 they will usually not receive $98,000 in combined salary and benefits. This state invests less than half the money on teachers than it does on police officers.
When reviewing average wages and benefits of elementary school teachers we see that our investment in primary educators is far less than that of higher grade teachers. Hundreds of substitute teachers are used to fill spaces in Clark County. This gives the impression that full-time teachers have a hard time showing up five days each week, or whenever classes are held. Anyone surprised by this?
The correlation between the dismal rate of high school graduations in Nevada and the conspicuously high rate of violent crime in this state is obvious. Clark County School Board President Carolyn Edwards has said “I’m not sure why it’s so bad,” referring to the graduation rate in this county, and Nevada as the state with the lowest graduation rate in this nation. This must be a highly disingenuous statement, or an assertion of a corrupt politician rather than a concerned educator.
The Nevada Commission on Ethics has received complaints alleging board members Garvey, Young, Wright, Cranor and Edwards have spent taxpayer funds on campaigning. The inference is that these people care far more about themselves and their social-political positions than they do about educating. It’s business as usual in Nevada. Power in the hands of a few means more than the quality of life for the community as a whole and the individuals who live and earn a living here. “School’s open; good luck.”
Law enforcement agencies are educators as well. No one should forget this. They teach us that with the right connections, wearing the right uniform, belonging to the right members-paying gang or union, anyone can get away with murder, literally. And, those who do follow the lead of their predecessors are guaranteed protection from prosecution by the district attorney.
This writer is surely not alone in believing that those in law enforcement indulging in their perpetual whine about “more money and more cops to make our jobs less dangerous” ought to shut up, and evaluate the potential results of paying primary teachers more money and more benefits. By taking less for themselves and giving more to education and motivation for students to actually learn, not merely to “graduate” out of school barely able to read and write, those whiners would be solving their own problems that leave them competing with an increasingly ignorant and violent population.
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Thomas A. Nagy is the author of Cannabis Consumer Handbook available at Amazon.com, and the blog ReGeneration at blogspot.com. Email direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org.