I’ve written several times about the training of police officers, specifically the LVMPD police academy experience. In mid-December of 2010 the Review-Journal ran the series, The Making of A Las Vegas Police Officer. Within two weeks, the R-J headline read, POLICE UNIONS ADVISE SILENCE. The two largest police unions in Las Vegas were telling members not to cooperate with investigators after officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths. This was fallout from the ongoing attempt to fix the coroner’s inquest process. On the same day, I wrote a letter to the editor entitled, Trust of the community key for the police. I never thought that I could become a police officer and not have to explain why I used deadly force (without the risk of losing my job).
During two weeks at the end of 2010, it was reported that the LVMPD was training new officers that they were ‘fighting a war’ and the police unions were telling officers not to cooperate with detectives investigating deaths which should have caused concern. About a year later came the Review-Journal story which was explosive and received attention at a national level.
On November 27, 2011, former R-J reporter Lawrence Mower (along with Alan Maimon and Brian Haynes) published an extremely troubling series Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kill. A very disturbing video (http://www.reviewjournal.com/
Press releases on LVMPD’s website show that in February of 2012, Sheriff Gillespie claimed he reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS), “to demonstrate the department’s commitment to addressing community concerns and ensuring fair and just behavior.” Gillespie claimed this was, “a proactive step that our department initiated to properly address community concerns about police use of force… and that it was, “a rare opportunity for us to have independent experts look at the big picture and give us the critical analysis and support needed to make this organization even stronger.”
I just revisited a story from June of 2012 entitled, With inquests stalled, Metro Police releasing, internal deadly force reports.
during a forum just last week. He claimed that Metro is its own biggest critic and that Metro is aware of many problems before they come to the attention of others.
The 2012 story concluded with a reference to Sgt. Kelly McMahill, a member of the new Office of Internal Oversight. She said her office was putting documents on the website along with specific recommendations on training or policy changes that came out of each one of the deadly force incidents. “It’s a case-by-case basis,” McMahill said. “We do a critical review of each one of these incidents and we look at everything from did the dispatching go correctly in the beginning all the way down to the application of the actual use of force.” Sgt. McMahill most recently was a lieutenant and is soon to be a captain. Her husband, Kevin, has been Sheriff Lombardo’s ‘Undersheriff’ since January of 2015.
McMahill’s wife has investigated shootings as a member of CIRT.
Assistant Sheriff Fasulo’s wife has investigated these shootings as well. If two of the top three ranking members of the LVMPD have wives doing highly sensitive investigations doesn’t anyone think that this could pose some problems and a conflict of interest? It certainly can’t be very objective.
As of March of 2016, (we are approaching four years later) the most recent ‘statistical data’ is dated in May of 2015. The most recent item listed under ‘quarterly reports’ is dated from June of 2012. NO KIDDING! Has the DOJ ignored Metro for almost four years or is Metro just not releasing the reports to the public and media or posting them on their website. There are at least nine fatal shootings pending which have not been reviewed. The most recent shooting review appears to be from April of 2014. That is a lot longer than 30 days… we are talking TWO YEARS here! The most recently reviewed non-fatal incident occurred in August of 2014. There are at least nine non-fatal shootings that have NOT been reviewed but they are adding ‘press releases’ to the website so they can’t say they have no knowledge of how horribly late (and outdated) their information is.
Captain Matt McCarthy has been replaced in OIOCS by Captain Shawn Anderson-according to the website. McCarthy is an interesting character and I found it entertaining to scrutinize his ‘on scene’ announcements and then compare them to the formal press conferences (or press releases) given by, ‘the undersheriff or his designee.’ The standard practice is to ‘spin’ the facts known at the scene to be most advantageous to the police department. The power to tell citizens what they are supposed to see on video or what they are supposed to believe (‘trust us’) is lodged at higher levels with people like Undersheriff McMahill or the Assistant Sheriffs. They are often aggressive and browbeat the reporters and are indignant that anyone would question the creative ‘storytelling’ that is given to the public. After all why worry when it won’t be for a couple of years until the full review is done and the public seems to have a short memory. The police officers working every day also don’t get the feedback from honest critiques (after action analysis) of incidents until the ideal time for ‘lessons learned’ has passed.
In conclusion, who is NOT living up to the promises that were made to the feds and the Las Vegas community? Nobody seems to be asking whether it is the sheriff’s problem or the problem of D.A. Wolfson.
The district attorney is months (even years) behind the curve with many shootings ‘on deck’ and I don’t see dates on the reports that Metro produces that will allow a determination to be made about whether Metro reports were completed within 30 days of the D.A. assessment — as promised. I find it quite pathetic to repeatedly read the D.A. reviews which have contained language such as, “If the facts are as reported and no new information is received” then the use of force is justified.” If progress toward transparency has stalled and is so pathetic as it currently appears then maybe the feds should do a little follow-up. Or maybe Lawrence Mower can return and do an update on the latest shootings. Everyone in Las Vegas should be paying attention. Luck only lasts just so long…
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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.