There is plenty of news about ‘leaks’ in politics and particularly under the new Trump administration. The word leak draws my attention to ‘plumbing’ and even to the condition known as ‘water hammer,’ which I have in my home. A water hammer is a knocking noise in a water pipe that occurs when a tap is turned off briskly. It is also called hydraulic shock.
Consider this — some people enjoy leaks because (if they work in media) they can get ‘exclusive’ stories and fame for themselves. Other people want to keep the ‘valve’ open because it makes their enemies or rivals look bad (a classic in politics and the politicized media of today). Do these self-serving people pout and cry when the ‘tap’ is turned off briskly and they hear the thump of a water hammer shaking their foundation?
I have a feeling that the Trump administration is going to be a water hammer! Those who engage in misconduct (violating rules) or illegal conduct (violating the law) should be punished. Keep in mind that ‘Whistleblower’ laws are already in place for those who do not have evil intent and who want to report government/organizational abuses, misconduct, and crimes.
So what is a leak and what are good leaks and bad leaks? An Internet search reveals, “A news leak is the unsanctioned release of confidential information to news media. It can also be the premature publication of information by a news outlet, of information that it has agreed not to release before a specified time, in violation of a news embargo.” Problems in D.C. currently include news leaks and also leaks from the ‘Intelligence’ community.
Who recalls Watergate and the use of the word ‘plumbers’ in that matter? “The White House Plumbers were a covert Special Investigations Unit, established July 24, 1971, during the presidency of Richard Nixon. The Unit’s task was to stop the leaking of classified information to the news media.”
A police department employee who ‘tips off’ a suspect or the media about an ongoing investigation or an arrest or search warrant about to be served is not only a ‘leak’ but it can also be a crime. To share confidential information about LVMPD bargaining strategy outside of approved personnel would be a leak. (Remember the allegations of ‘collusion’ between Sheriff Gillespie and the police union)?
Certain information is confidential to protect employees on internal investigations or ‘personnel matters’ and it is common to protect witnesses and sexual assault victims.
Leak investigations can result in criminal charges or internal discipline — including termination. In the military there are also many highly sensitive missions and disclosing information about them could cost lives and compromise the safety of our military members and our country. The motive or intent behind a ‘leak’ can be the starting point for determining if it was intended to be malicious. I believe that the drama in D.C. regarding ‘leaks’ is motivated by malice and those who want to resist President Donald Trump. Suffice it to say that employees in certain government assignments are held to a higher standard due to the law and policies and procedures that don’t always apply elsewhere. Police departments are considered para-military organizations and, just like the military, they can often justify a higher level of confidentiality and keep information secret for reasons that are completely justifiable. But let’s not forget that highly competitive ‘high-tech’ industries ALSO have a huge emphasis on secrecy to avoid losing out to their competitors. Trade secrets can be stolen (or leaked) costing billions of dollars. And finally, the winners of the Oscars were brought to the botched event by an accounting firm secured in briefcases. Even ‘Hollywood’ folks have concerns about secrecy and avoiding leaks — or misinformation!
Whistleblower laws have been created to protect ‘sources’ (both identified and anonymous) from prosecution (and even internal discipline) when those who report (or leak) information have honorable intentions. Remember the LVMPD Air Support Unit issue? A tragic accident took the life of a police officer but, almost contemporaneous with that incident, Lt. Gawain Guedry was involved in a study and their findings were troubling. Troubling to the LVMPD administration that is! When leaks or even legitimate investigations and reports of safety concerns, misconduct, corruption, and various forms of criminal activity such as kick-backs and bribes are reported to the proper authorities, this is viewed as an honorable civic duty which can result in saving lives and correcting problems. Guedry didn’t last long on Metro after his moment of truth — which is exactly how Metro treats some of its people. The people involved in this report sought ‘Whistleblower’ protection from the prosecutor’s office, but there was no finding of or enforcement action against Metro.
Recent Metro controversies have included decentralizing and disbanding the gang unit (now being reversed). Metro shooting reviews are pathetically late despite assurances to the contrary. Once you can bamboozle the feds it must get easier. Now known as a use of force ‘reform’ leader, somebody (including citizens in Las Vegas) has let Metro off the hook. Here are a couple of other issues that could be reported if ‘sources’ would stand up: The PERS (fraudulent disability retirements for Metro) and More Cops taxation and whether it is a ‘legitimate’ need and use of money. Sometimes ‘the system’ does not correct problems and it is left up to civil lawsuits to level the playing field. Just how much can we compete with Metro when they have a budget of $566 million? Other times it is WATCHDOGS (i.e., www.watchdogwag) or Clark County Criminal Cops (citizen operated blogs or websites) that rely on information provided to them — most often by a disgruntled employee who is not getting justice or due process.
SHERIFF SETTLING SCORES
Reading Rolando Larraz’ column last week was like a flashback for me — a negative one. He wrote, “If you are a Metro police officer who happens to fall from grace in the eyes of your supervisor, you know the penalty lasts a lifetime — not because you, the police officer, made a mistake (we all know that one can be innocent yet that will not stop the accusations nor the penalties), but because the Gang of Three will make sure that your punishment is for as long as you live since they put it on paper and file it to stay around forever.
Nothing will hurt a police officer more than to be denied his or her retirement papers, permitting them to carry a concealed weapon and be identified as a retired police officer, which will get them a little more respect from former fellow officers in case the situation warrants it.”
I have told the story of walking my dogs with my daughter the day after Sheriff Gillespie terminated me. I had a pistol in my pocket. Not realizing that I had just faced one of the most immediate and critical transitions in my life… it was not until I returned home that I realized (overnight) that I no longer had the right to carry a concealed weapon. I held one status on 11/16/11 and another on 11/17/11. No consideration was given to almost 22 years of dedicated service to the LVMPD and citizens in Las Vegas. I was never ‘dead weight’ and one of my colleagues once told me he heard I was once a ‘Golden Child,’ but I now know I would have been better off retired in place!
I don’t know if the DENIAL OF RETIREMENT CREDENTIALS can be rectified or not. The Sheriff of Clark County has awesome powers. Maybe the unions can make this a contractual obligation and define when and how credentials will be issued and clarify ‘honorable’ service so that ‘pissing off the sheriff’ is no longer the subjective standard for denial.
Norm Jahn served with the LVMPD for over 21 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He also served as a police chief in Wisconsin for over three years. Jahn has been a university professor and also taught in the criminal justice program at the College of Southern Nevada for over a decade.