within hours of the fatal accident involving Officer Vanbuskirk is,
hopefully, NOT a one-time newsflash! Someone in the news profession
needs to have the courage to follow-up and report more on this.
Persistent requests for information are needed to overcome the
fraudulent promise of transparency articulated by Sheriff Gillespie.
It would be really important to find out if there are any areas for
improvement that would prevent a similar tragedy in the future. It
would also be important to find out if there is a need to have some
accountability in the administration and hold these individuals to the
same standards as everyone else. Does Sheriff Gillespie pay
‘lip-service’ to the concept of transparency and accountability?
When the Stanley Gibson shooting was analyzed and assessed the
recommendations for discipline were: one officer terminated, one
supervisor demoted, and another supervisor suspended. If Lt. Guedry (a
former CSN student of mine) had serious concerns about safety and put
them in writing over a period of months, then were his concerns
ignored or acted upon? It does not matter that one particular email
appears to have been ‘leaked’ or forwarded by someone else… what
matters is the CONTENT of his communication about safety problems at
Air Support. I’m sure that the LVMPD did not want information about
the email provided to the media. There is probably an abundant amount
of additional documentation related to the situation-prior to the
In my early career I was taught, “If it is not in writing it didn’t
happen.” I was also taught document, document, document! This was
primarily in reference to writing detailed police reports… but it
also has application in other aspects of policing. I put things in
writing over and over and over. I expressed concerns about the level
of crime and tourist safety on the Strip. I wrote about the
ineffective response and investigation of certain crimes. I even wrote
to try to save my own job after I was being discriminated against and
harassed and faced retaliation. I wrote to my chain of command. I
wrote to Internal Affairs. I wrote to Employment Diversity. I wrote to
my union (the Police Manager’s & Supervisor’s Association). I even
communicated with PEAP (Police Employee’s Assistance Program). This is
an important resource available to employees that need someone to
listen and refer them to get HELP! My emails and other records will
not disappear — even though the LVMPD ignored me at the time and later
removed me from the organization.
I hope that an objective and fair assessment of the issues at Air
Support takes place. I hope that there were no preventable factors
involved in the tragic loss of an officer’s life. I hope that openness
to outside scrutiny or opposing viewpoints results in improvement and
that true transparency leads to accountability and improvement.
Is Sheriff Gillespie providing transparency about the Walters family
tragedy? From what I have learned, it is more like a blanket gag order
or information blackouts in place. This is the absence of
transparency. I’ll never accept the ‘incident log’ that the Henderson
Police Department released as a professional report on a
double-murder/suicide by an active lieutenant with the LVMPD. There
simply must be more information released and an analysis of what led
to that tragedy.
One more area of transparency that is long overdue… Just how are
people SEPARATED from the LVMPD and what benefits do they receive?
When I left the LVMPD I was provided with an Employee Separation
Notice. It shows that Captain Fasulo was my ‘supervisor’ and that my
last day worked was 11/17/11. Four days later I had ‘retired’ with the
Public Employees Retirement System (Nevada PERS). There are 4
classifications of ‘separation’ on the form: 1) Voluntary Resignation,
2) Voluntary Retirement, 3) Involuntary Termination, and 4) Other.
Under the heading of Voluntary Resignation there are four categories:
(Passed Probation, Did not complete probation, In lieu of
non-confirmation, and In lieu of pre-termination hearing). Under the
heading of Voluntary Retirement, there are five categories: (20 +
years of service with LVMPD, 1-19 years of service with LVMPD —
collecting PERS, Less than 10 years of service with LVMPD — collecting
PERS, Disability (PERS), and In lieu of pre-termination hearing. Under
involuntary termination, there are three categories: Passed probation,
Did not pass probation, and Non-confirmation of appointment. The last
classification is other and the only two categories are Work Completed
(Temporary Employee) and Deceased.
My form shows that I was an INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION but it also shows
that I passed probation. Due to the fact that I had over 20 years in
PERS and was over age 50, I qualified for an unreduced benefit. When I
left the LVMPD to become a police chief in 1996 I was 36 years old. I
would have taken a 76 percent penalty if I had drawn retirement then.
We were penalized 4 percent per year that we were under age 55. While
I was gone the retirement age changed to age 50 with 20 years of
service so I received what the plan promised.
I have had concerns about lack of transparency about how various other
people ‘retire.’ There are terms such as MEDICAL retirement and
DISABILITY retirement that I have heard used. I’ve heard of
individuals offered a ‘medical’ retirement from Metro in lieu of a
termination. I was actually offered one by my union representative in
the parking lot of Internal Affairs before my career-ending interview
on July 28, 2011. This really troubled me…
I basically said hell no! I didn’t want to move ahead in life having
to report that I got a ‘medical’ retirement from my policing career.
It disgusted me that I was told they would just need to fill in the
blanks — I did not engage in misconduct and I was not untruthful in
any way. Why would I participate in a fraudulent process? I started to
wonder how many times this medical retirement is offered when officers
are ‘in trouble’? Remember, officers should be considered innocent
until proven guilty by clear and convincing evidence. These guarantees
exist because of the Police Officer Bill of Rights or the police
contracts or policies and procedures.
I also learned that there is a DISABILITY retirement that is
recognized by PERS. This requires five or more years on the job and to
be totally unable to perform their current or comparable job due to an
injury or mental illness of a permanent nature. Filing must occur
prior to termination and this requires extensive records and review.
There is no reduction of benefits for being under the retirement age
when this type of retirement occurs. I know that a MEDICAL does not
pay as much as a DISABILITY and that one is much more extensive than
the other. I also understand that a disability retirement is not
taxable or not taxable at the same level as other forms of retirement.
I should try to learn more about this topic and how Metro handles it,
but guess what? Metro won’t release information and they use the
health information confidentiality rules to their advantage.
What I would like to ask is, what type of retirement did a half-dozen
police lieutenants who left the LVMPD under a ‘dark cloud’ receive? I
could list their names, but that is not the point. When you are given
a ‘stress’ retirement while under federal investigation and later
convicted, is that right? When you are allowed to retire on a
‘medical’ and avoid discipline, is that right? If you have a substance
abuse problem (alcohol or drugs or drunk driving), should an
investigation be completed or should the individual be allowed to fade
off into the sunset? If you steal from the police union and never get
prosecuted, do you also get a ‘special’ retirement? And what do the
SEPARATION NOTICES say for members of the LVMPD that depart under less
than ideal circumstances?
Who is approving these retirements and who is accountable? How does it
impact the taxpayers and the other retirees and the overall retirement
system? Does anyone care? Will anyone be given a summary report or
statistics (without names) by Sheriff Gillespie?
I lost my job after refusing a fraudulent medical retirement and after
refusing to sign a ‘gag order’ prepared by Attorney Nick Crosby. The
gag order would have allowed me to retire and they would have removed
the ‘internal truthfulness’ allegation. I could have walked away with
significantly less damage to my record and MY FUTURE, but I didn’t
To add insult to injury I do not have my retirement ‘credentials’ and
I do not have a retirement badge. I am not able to carry a concealed
weapon NATIONWIDE as an ‘honorably retired’ police officer. I’ve
mentioned in a previous column that I went for a walk in Mountain’s
Edge with my daughter the day after my termination. I had a handgun
concealed in my pocket because there are coyotes and other ‘dangers’
in the big world. I got home and realized that I could possibly have
been arrested because I was no longer authorized to carry a concealed
weapon — I was no longer a police officer!
I really want to know the FACTS! How many people have been given
MEDICAL or DISABILITY retirements — instead of being investigated and
held accountable for their conduct? What shows on their Employment
Separation Notice? Do they show INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION like me? Did
they actually get their retirement credentials and badge and retain
the benefits and status of an honorable retired police officer after
stealing, engaging in various types of misconduct or possible crimes,
abusing drugs or alcohol, getting in a wreck in Montana while
If we are not all being treated the same, then who is making these
decisions? Who is approving the retirement credentials — Duh’G? A
friend of mine who finally received a disability retirement (he had
suffered a debilitating stroke) was told he might be able to get his
‘credentials’ after a few years. Does Sheriff Gillespie tell people to
stay out of trouble for a few years and not criticize him or the
department and he will reward them with their retirement badge and
Well, I just don’t know these answers but I think they are very
important and (if the TRANSPARENCY ever occurs) they will give
everyone a glimpse of the character of the current LVMPD!
Speaking of badges (like the one I do NOT have)Öwhere did nearly a
dozen badges purchased through Sun Badge Company and listed on Sheriff
Gillespie’s 2012 and 2013 campaign expenditure reports go? Did some
citizen or ‘friend’ get rewarded for their support with a badge? I
didn’t get mine after doing my best for over 21 years and living
through some of Metro’s HELL, but campaign contributors or someone is
getting something from the Sun Badge Company. How about some
transparency on these issues, Sheriff?
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.