I take no pleasure in reading or writing about problems that Metro officers experience that are made into news in Las Vegas. The problem that I have is when incidents for SOME OFFICERS result in media attention and discipline, while others don’t.
In 2010, a domestic violence incident involving a Metro captain (he was just promoted to Deputy Chief) resulted in a few brief references in a column by John L. Smith
This is not even ‘news,’ is it? There are plenty more examples. The double standard and selective enforcement is disgusting and is perpetuated by the ‘regime’ that still controls the LVMPD.
The supposed detective ‘robbery’ story begins, “A veteran Las Vegas police detective stood shackled before a judge while prosecutors lodged more charges alleging that he injured a prostitute he attacked to get his money back after paying her last week… a criminal case that could get him dismissed from the police force and imprisoned for life. Kitchen, 35, was arrested Friday on felony battery, robbery and attempted sexual assault charges.” Are you kidding me? The actual arrest report (promptly placed in the Las Vegas Sun) lists charges as Burglary, Sexually Motivated Robbery, and Battery to Commit Sexual Assault.
So what really happened here and how does it match up with the Metro career-annihilation story? At a minimum, this is an escort service complaint/escort service fraud. When an escort gets ripped off she calls the police and it is called a complaint. When a ‘trick’ is ripped off it is an escort service fraud. Detective Kitchen is alleged to have caused substantial bodily harm while pushing the woman to the floor, unzipping her pants and removing $100 from her bra. He supposedly gave her the money for a 30-minute visit, “but became enraged when she told him sex would cost another $150, according to an arrest report.” The detective then supposedly got violent in an attempt to retrieve his money. Is this a robbery? Is this a burglary?
Is this an attempted sexual assault?
If you pay for a service (massage) which is not delivered, is it robbery to try to get your money back? A robbery is basically the taking of the property of another by use of force or violence. Even Sheriff Lombardo can call to set up a massage appointment; it is completely legal. Paying for sexual acts, agreeing to pay for sexual acts, or advertising that you will engage in sexual acts for money, is the crime!
Does the transfer of money (up front of course) between a customer and a prostitute make the money the property of the prostitute? Does a threat, “You better give my money back,” make it a robbery after it has been hidden? Battery (misdemeanor) is a crime… but an arrest cannot be made unless the officer observes it or unless it is a citizen’s arrest; and how are injuries proved to have been inflicted at the hands of the detective? Could our ‘lady’ have already had a broken wrist or had a concussion from Skippy her Pimp or a prior customer? And unzipping the pants of a ‘thief’ being considered an
attempted sexual act? I read no probable cause in the arrest report supporting this charge that could put you away for life. It doesn’t sound like ‘sex’ was a motive at that point.
I’m not defending Kitchen — if he committed misdemeanor crimes attempting to retrieve his money after agreeing to pay for an act of prostitution, then he will be held accountable. I’m just interested in telling the rest of the story. This stuff happens all day and every day in Las Vegas. The ‘customer’ (actually ‘victim’) rarely gets arrested and the ‘escort/prostitute’ (often the ‘suspect’) also usually walks away. Metro even has had a policy on how to deal with these complaints and I dealt with it on the Strip for a half-decade.
Kitchen was identified because his phone number and license plates were traced. I’ve rarely seen officers care enough to take either of these steps when dealing with the ‘routine’ crimes against tourists on the Strip. The arrest report (posted in a Las Vegas Sun article by AP reporter Ken Ritter) was very revealing and detailed a good preliminary investigation. But as soon as one officer ran the phone number though Coplink, the whole world stopped and sexual assault and other supervisors got involved because they had a ‘cop’ in their sights. The general public thinks that cops always protect cops — that
is not true.
So Metro brings out the specialty investigators (I rarely got a sexual assault detective to come to the Strip on a similar call). They even got a search warrant and did a sexual assault exam to collect evidence against their target (in my day, it would take an act of Obama to get a search warrant on an escort service incident). The police then learn that the prostitute worked for an escort service and a pimp named SKIP. She said she was afraid of retaliation and wouldn’t give any more information. WOW!
She admits she later had some ‘comfort sex’ with her boyfriend. But what will ever happen to the escort service and SKIPPY THE PIMP? Yes — the pimp’s name was Skip! Shouldn’t something be done to follow up on this criminal enterprise? Are the detectives using CopLink to track down and identify Skippy the Pimp? How about Pimp-Link? Why are we not reading about the detectives tracking down the escort service and interviewing the operators and doing search warrants or surveillance
on the girl and her pimp? Prostitution remains ILLEGAL in Las Vegas, doesn’t it. Are these businesses being protected? Making campaign contributions?
Here are a couple of facts. These incidents happen almost every shift on the Strip — even if the police are not called… hotel security deals with them non-stop. They often involve violence (knives, pepper-spray, even guns) and people are injured — even transported to the hospital. People are brought to hotel security but there is rarely an arrest made. A ‘deal’ is struck and everyone is allowed to go, often without as much as a citation.
Officers routinely tell the tourist that he will have to come back to testify at his own expense. The victim is frequently from out of state or out of the country. They also explain that the tourist’s spouse may find out what happened and this is usually enough to seal the ‘deal’ for non-prosecution. These problems are ongoing and have been out of control… but because Kitchen was a police officer, within hours, his booking photo and now even an arrest report are released and in the paper. Does anyone wonder whether the responding officers informed the prostitute that she should be arrested, have to return to court, and that her ‘boyfriend’ could find out what she was doing?
What will ever be done to the escort service, the prostitute, or SKIPPY THE PIMP? Don’t expect to ever find out. The whores get away with using high heels like ice picks to steal from foreign tourists or to fight each other. They use pepper spray, razor blades, and even guns. Real VIOLENCE does occur, but and they are regularly asked to leave without as much as a citation.
Accountability, after all, means the state of being accountable, liable or answerable. When will Metro ‘answer’ why they go to such lengths to protect on-duty officers but routinely humiliate and sacrifice so many others?
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.