On 11/17/11, the US Attorney put me back on the witness stand after Sheriff Gillespie fired me during a lunch break in a federal criminal trial. Both suspects in that trial were convicted of their participation in an extensive robbery series. So much for Metro and the DA’s dreaded LIARS LIST, eh?
Looking back, either one or two things happened. The U.S. Attorney (Kathleen Bliss) didn’t bother to inform Metro that I was subpoenaed and had attended several pre-trial conferences (so they, Metro, couldn’t interfere); or they did tell Metro, they did evaluate the bogus charges against me (crossing the street), and they saw my ‘relief of duty’ status as an extremely minimal risk to their case. No police officer’s career and legacy should be destroyed due to internal politics, but this is exactly what Metro seems to enjoy doing.
The ‘premier’ law enforcers in Clark County subscribe to the concept that if you have been untruthful related to your policing duties or internal matters, you are no longer of any value in law enforcement. They seem to believe they have the power to ‘delete’ your entire career and unblemished track record of performance (including testimony), but it really is NOT to protect the integrity of the justice system — as they purport. Most of the time they just no longer want you to work for them — specifically Metro! I’m hoping that someday, after ‘burning’ current members of their inner circle, we will all learn the underhanded and devious tactics used by the LVMPD during their investigations and disciplinary cases.
The word ‘provenance’ means the beginning of something’s existence or something’s origin or the earliest known history of something. Historically speaking, there have been court cases requiring the prosecutor to disclose exculpatory information with the defense to make for a fair trial. This has been interpreted to include the ‘personnel’ records of the officers and it would include disciplinary records. If officers were reprimanded for excessive force, or if they put sloppy cases together, or if they were ‘insubordinate,’ or if their integrity was questioned, then the defense attorney should be able to bring this up in front of a jury at trial. Court officials would know the ‘record’ and be able to use it to impugn the witness — in these cases, the police officer/law enforcement employee!
The idea is to let the chips fall where they may… if a ‘superstar’ detective (i.e., Chris Baughman) has negative information in his performance record (i.e., corrective action after an intimate relationship with a suspect or witness) then this (in Baughman’s current FBI case) would be important for the pimp’s attorney to try to discredit the detective. It is designed to bring a sense of ‘fair play’ to the courtroom. If a suspect’s prior criminal record is examined, then the police officer’s record should be examined as well. So that paragraph covers the COURT’S interest in fairness.
So when and where did Metro’s Truthfulness insanity originate? The ‘provenance’ of Metro’s TRUTHFULNESS rules comes from former Sheriff Bill Young. It was touted as a “You Lie, You Fly” transaction in campaign propaganda. The only problem is that they left things wide open to interpretation and they get to write the rules! There have also been modifications (and plenty of exceptions) over the years.
I know of an Asian officer and a Jewish officer (who were on my squad) who got fired. One night, when I was not working they had an incident with a minor who was drinking on the Strip. He initially warned him and allowed him to leave but he came running back to the officers who took him into custody. He was handcuffed and shoved. Which officer shoved and which handcuffed? On ‘Safe Strip’ nights an officer may handcuff multiple people because they are fighting, acting disorderly, and need to settle down. Sometimes they also have to ‘take down’ rowdy suspects (just watch Sgt. TJ Jenkins on COPS). These two officers wrote their use of force reports in Captain Todd Fasulo’s Blue Team system and there were inconsistencies. Who put on the cuffs? Who didn’t? Who shoved the violator? Who didn’t? It was astounding to learn that Metro had researched the computer system to find different ‘revisions’ of the report looking for the opportunity to claim there was truthfulness violations. I actually believe the captain at the time was trying to investigate our sergeant (Sgt. Ray Reyes). Bottom line, they both lose at the (in-house) pre-termination hearing and despite a nearly total lack of evidence they lost their jobs with the LVMPD and it devastated them and completely changed their lives.
This is rotten stuff and it should not still be happening a decade later, but it is! And it gets worse — Metro now charges officers with ‘administrative’ DUI if they have driven their personal vehicles after having drinks on their personal time and with no traffic stop, no accident, no scientific evidence of any blood alcohol content; NOTHING other than circumstantial evidence that an employee drove after drinking. I see this as an astounding violation of civil rights but if anyone is going to get away with it, look to Metro, the half-billion dollar beast!
John L. Smith wrote an opinion for the ‘Nevada Independent entitled: Metro comes through once more for federal officers in Bundy ranch standoff on 3/12/17. (https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/metro-comes-federal-officers-bundy-ranch-standoff)
Smith wrote; “The defense this past week had little success with Metro Sgt. Tom Jenkins and none at all with Sheriff Joseph Lombardo. Jenkins brought more than two decades of law enforcement experience into court. He’s worked man protests, a few of which have turned violent. Attorneys could doubt his memory of the day’s events, but there was no questioning his resume.”
This was an ‘opinion’ and not a straight news piece but it sounded like a love-fest to me. More from Smith: “From the time we got there until the time we left, Jenkins replied when asked how often protesters flashed their handguns and rifles Metro’s way. Although lengthy recorded exhibits didn’t always concur with the sergeant’s memory of the subject, he was unflappable on the stand under incisive cross examination. Jenkins went on to describe white guys with guns and he said that his own officers were so concerned for their safety that they were crying.”
Was Jenkins lying (being intentionally untruthful) or was he ‘just’ exaggerating in pretrial media coverage and for the court?
Yesterday’s ‘hung jury’ for four of the accused suspects seems to tell a different story in comparison to Smith’s assessment more than a month ago. (http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/jurors-deadlocked-on-majority-of-counts-in-bundy-standoff-trial/698301639). Whether there is ever a retrial or not, Jenkins will be one to watch in the future. I’ve seen Facebook posts calling for his arrest for perjury. When you wear ‘Teflon’ like Sgt. TJ, you have nothing to worry about.
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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.