Metro’s truthfulness terminations are NOT always required. Police
departments once had to face the challenge of taking guns away from
police officers with domestic violence convictions and also possibly
firing them because they could no longer do their jobs. This changed
when there were amendments to the laws and when police departments
worked out ways to allow officers to carry during duty hours, but
after work the officer had to comply with restrictions. With regard to
Metro’s truthfulness terminations, not every disciplinary finding is
relevant to the credibility of an officer and they are not always
required to be disclosed when cases are examined by the courts on a
case-by-case basis. Sure, an officer’s personnel file and disciplinary
history could be an issue in future cases, but how about letting the
attorneys and the judge do the analysis? They don’t get their
paychecks from Sheriff Gillespie, and they don’t face the loss of
their jobs if they notice unjust treatment of employees or just plain
The court can make decisions on officers’ testimony in context with
other information. Should Sheriff Gillespie be considered a liar just
based on news reports (i.e., the recent contract negotiations with the
PPA that made the news last year)? Or is he just a ‘politician’ and
don’t we already expect politicians to stretch the truth? I guess it
is expected that some politicians will lie…but if that politician is
also a law enforcement officer, are we really going to see a
truthfulness termination of a sheriff? I don’t think so. I don’t have
any reason to doubt what retired captain David O’Leary has recently
said about Metro trying to find dirt on Commissioner Steve Sisolak.
This story broke in the news last week. Many people suspect that Metro
has the power to target their enemies. This has even come up in past
campaigns and from what I have heard, those candidates (and others
such as news reporters that Metro doesn’t like) have good reason to be
fearful–especially when the FBI does not even give any indication
that they believe the concerns of civil rights abuses could be valid.
I can’t believe the media coverage on the Yant shooting of Trevon Cole
and other major incidents in the last few years. The media is MOCKING
Metro and it is beyond simple sarcasm. John L. Smith wrote a column
about a ‘bumbling detective’ that was NOT fired ‘because he kept his
story straight.’ He also wrote a column, What does a cop have to do to
get fired around here? Smith noted, “Some of Yant’s fellow cops didn’t
buy his version of events–and they were on the scene that night.”
Smith also wrote, “In the wake of the Cole debacle, no reasonable
person can believe that Yant can credibly investigate future cases.”
and… (I love this one)… “Did the presence of reality TV show
cameras from Langley Productions motivate the cops to strut their
stuff that night?” Isn’t the public getting just a little tired of
some stories in the media and the continued support of the next
sheriff by Langley Productions and other shows that make millions off
Smith also wrote another column about the fatal shooting of Cole and a
$1.7 million settlement paid to Cole’s family.
This column was written in early 2012 and was titled, Bumbling
detective made mistakes but kept story straight. Yant kept his story
straight and he was given the benefit of the doubt due to his
‘perception’ of the incident as Sheriff Duh-G explained to the media.
I took particular interest when I read these reports because Sheriff
Gillespie had just fired me for crossing I-15 on June 30, 2011 (and
merely speaking to another officer as we had our cars parked next to
each other). I kept my story straight (it was the truth that I was not
conducting a follow-up investigation). I also had a ‘perception’ of
what I was supposed to be allowed to do or not do. I even tried to get
clarification (a half dozen times) but didn’t because this was part of
their silly little ‘sting’ operation that I first heard was announced
by Lt. Will Scott. He is now a captain and I’ve heard stories of his
truthfulness challenges in various disciplinary matters. I’m starting
to realize how many black supervisors that I had problems with during
my second career at Metro… that could be a problem for others to
face in the future. Former undersheriff Rod Jett was in a total
different class than people like Charles Hank, Curtis Williams, and
The meaning of the information written by Smith in his story about the
shooting of Trevon Cole (all italicized below) is especially
“Sheriff Doug Gillespie answered my question. It just wasn’t the
answer I expected… Yant filed a false search-warrant affidavit and
pulled the trigger on an unarmed man. During the Clark County
Coroner’s inquest, his testimony didn’t match the stories told by
other cops at the scene.
Not only wasn’t Yant fired, it wasn’t even close.
During a visit this week to the Review-Journal, Gillespie briefly
addressed the Cole shooting. For starters, he was asked whether Yant
faced future department sanctions.
The answer is no.
“That was already completed prior to the settlement, his discipline,”
Gillespie said. “… He was disciplined for sloppy police work.”
And I thought the one-week suspension was a warm-up for the actual
punishment. I was wrong.
As for that bogus search-warrant affidavit, it also wasn’t worth firing the guy.
“He’s admitted his mistakes, in the filling out of the paperwork,”
Gillespie said. “When it was brought to his attention, he admitted
that he had made a mistake.”
And, for the record, it makes no difference that the mistake — listing
the wrong man — might have helped contribute to the death of the
small-time pot dealer. But just because the search warrant was flawed
doesn’t mean Yant lied, which would have violated the department’s
Gillespie defended his decision not to seek further sanctions of Yant
because the officer’s story passed the scrutiny of the coroner’s
inquest and the local use-of-force board. Never mind that the
coroner’s inquest system has been a rubber stamp for the department.
Using it as a barometer for action would seem comical if not for that
body and $1.7 million check.
The fact Yant’s sworn testimony didn’t match the statements of other
officers at the scene wasn’t enough to force the sheriff’s hand,
“It’s an officer’s perception,” Gillespie said. “It’s an individual’s
perception of what took place. His perception was consistent from that
night as it went through the process. He stood up at the coroner’s
inquest and presented the facts of the case. They came back 7-0 as an
inquest in regards to the criminal side. It went to the internal side.
He presented his case to the use-of-force board, which four citizens
sit on. When it came to his use of force, they felt it was within
“There were other actions that officer Yant demonstrated that led to
his suspension as well as adjudication, and when I’m evaluating those
particular cases, you know, I also look at it from the standpoint of
would we prevail if in fact challenged from an arbitration standpoint.
Which, when you’re taking someone’s job away from them, that’s the
ultimate decision, they’re going to appeal that.”
Sure they’ll appeal a termination. They might even win.
But shouldn’t the sheriff stand up and make the call?
If a bumbling detective can file a false affidavit, shoot and kill an
unarmed man, cause a $1.7 million settlement, and still not qualify
for termination, then there’s something seriously wrong here.
What does a cop have to do to get fired around here?
Fail to keep his story straight.
What a pathetic and duplicitous leader was Doug Gillespie to fire
officer Yi and JR for not remembering who took off a pair of handcuffs
and then to make excuses about ‘an officer’s perception…It’s an
individual’s perception of what took place’ when a life was taken!
Sheriff — when you’re taking someone’s job away from them, that IS the
ultimate decision, they’re going to appeal that… but many times you
couldn’t care less! Did you think about that prior to signing papers
to fire so many of us? You have fired plenty of officers and I think
you enjoyed the experience and were empowered by it. We didn’t kill.
We didn’t beat-down. We didn’t get the LVMPD sued. We didn’t make the
news and bring the LVMPD into public discredit. We didn’t beat our
wives or girlfriends. We didn’t keep our jobs after repeated DUI’s and
we weren’t a couple of lieutenants who were still promoted AFTER being
arrested for drunk driving. We did not get promoted all the way up to
Assistant Sheriff after truthfulness issues related to sexual
harassment or sexual misconduct like two of your recent Assistant
Sheriffs. We didn’t drive to Arizona after reporting that we were in
Family Court. We also did NOT lie, Duh-G! You just decided that
‘perception’ and ‘semantics’ were not going to be excuses that you
used to keep some of us. I guess Captain Dave O’Leary was not
salvageable in your mind either, was he? You just decided that you
would selectively apply the truthfulness policy because of the total
discretion that you and your ‘plants’ in Internal Affairs have to
apply the policy. The people that you saved owe you favors now, don’t
they? Just like you owe ‘favors’ to those who helped to elect you by
giving you their money.
I could go on and on and on and if any former members of the LVMPD
decided to send me their stories, we would have 52 weeks’ worth of
additional columns to write for the Las Vegas Tribune. Unless a
current candidate decides to address the police discipline outrage,
then maybe none of them deserves the massive power of the position. It
is clearly time to review and reform the Truthfulness Policy, conduct
a thorough assessment of the internal discipline process and
outcomes… and it is clearly time for a new 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.