I just read an Adjudication of Complaint prepared by Kelly Sweeney in Metro Labor Relations in 2011. This was after the LVMPD reached a conclusion on the investigation of an officer who had already resigned. It was not the first time that I read one of her incredibly
inaccurate and embellished summaries of the findings of an Internal Affairs investigation (or in this case, a non-investigation). Even
though the officer was convinced to resign, Captain Charles Hank pushed through an Adjudication of Complaint that was absolutely
unreal. It was full of speculation and conclusions that were not supported by anything. The officer’s rights under the Police Officer’s
Bill of Rights were repeatedly violated when he was confronted by detectives from several different units; and, reportedly, he was
threatened with criminal charges by the current attorney for the POLICE UNION! There was no clear and convincing evidence of anything, let alone probable cause to be charged with any crimes. It was truly disgusting.
If anyone understands the word ‘indictment’ (facing trial based only on the probability that a crime was committed and that the accused person did it), then I’m certain they could review the same materials that I have read and conclude that some high-ranking members of the LVMPD should be ‘indicted’ or held accountable in a non-criminal forum. Does this sound like a strong statement? I don’t think anyone will believe the ridiculous (but apparently tolerated) levels of professional misconduct that were reached by some members of Internal Affairs, Labor Relations, Employment Diversity, and maybe even the unions. I would have wanted the pretenders in this particular case to have brought forward criminal charges so that that employee could have exercised his constitutional rights and other rights guaranteed under Nevada Revised Statutes. Any good quality defense attorney would absolutely annihilate little ‘Nicky’ Crosby and his Metro puppeteers if there was any fundamental fairness — instead of the Kangaroo Court over which none other than Joe Lombardo has presided so many times!
Metro only needs clear and convincing evidence to convince a ‘friendly’ arbitrator that they have prevailed during an arbitration
hearing. They get away with totally subjective terminology for some violations such as CONSORTING WITH PERSONS OF ILL REPUTE or ENGAGING IN CONDUCT WHICH BRINGS THE DEPARTMENT INTO DISREPUTE. Worst of all, if the administrators work together to ‘facilitate’ resignations before any disposition on the investigation even occurs or before any due process (opportunity to challenge findings), then the problems are never corrected and they continue. They encourage resignations to allow an employee the chance to find future employment in law enforcement but don’t reveal that they are highly proficient at blackballing the former employee. How does this happen? What are the unions or private attorneys hired by officers doing to challenge Metro? How much history to these problems has been loaded on the plate of the PMSA and the PPA, and what has ever been done?
I know that I have expressed my concerns to the unions more than once. I wasn’t a troublemaker who engaged in misconduct and then wanted the union to bail me out. During my very few experiences with Internal Affairs (over 20 + years) I came to realize that the system is a total joke and so is the maximum of 40 hours for a suspension with the only alternative after that to be a termination of employment. The department has a sledgehammer and controls all aspects of the investigation. You can’t even call your ‘mom’ for a loan to hire an
attorney to fight the department without violating one of their admonishments. My realization is that certain officers are SOLD-OUT and after it is too late (they have resigned or have been fired), they are told ‘sorry, we don’t represent you anymore.’
I also just revisited an arbitrator’s decision on a case that involved Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Captain Charles Hank, Lt. Karen
Hughes, and Sgt. John Hayes. A true group of ‘lovelies’ at Metro!
Lombardo is now running for sheriff. Hank is now strongly supporting (and donating money to) Lombardo. Hughes is still controlling what I believe to be the corrupt Vice ‘enterprises’ and guess what? Sgt. John Hayes is now the Vice-Chair of the police supervisor’s union — charged with protecting the rights of police supervisors up to the rank of Captain.
The arbitration decision that I read involved an officer that went to lunch at the Peppermill during a graveyard shift. He was eating with a
female friend that Hayes believed was a prostitute — but she was NOT. Hayes and his squad of Vice officers were also eating in the
restaurant. The uniformed officer felt uncomfortable when he saw Hayes and an entire squad so he excused himself and went to eat elsewhere. Suspecting that the officer was so audacious as to go to lunch with a prostitute, Hayes ordered his entire squad to immediately perform surveillance on the officer. The surveillance produced no result.
Nothing happened, but Hayes had already called in a complaint alleging that the officer ‘blew the cover’ of his plainclothes squad at the
Peppermill — a location known to be frequented for years during the early morning hours by people in the ‘industry’ …if you know what I
The following, very powerful language, was used by the arbitrator as he BLASTED most of the charges against the officer out of the water:
Divulging the identity of an “undercover operative” …requires the discharge of an officer on the first offense. With such perilous consequences, it would be expected that the term “undercover operative” would be clearly defined. It is not so defined…
Apparently the only person who used the word “Undercover” was Hayes who the Grievant alleges is his primary antagonist. Does it matter that Internal Affairs did not even bother to interview the five other officers (who were present) to find out what the waitress actually said to them?
It is concluded that the term “undercover operative” is vague and ambiguous as used in this policy as it is nowhere defined in
Department policies and fails to make a distinction between officers functioning in a cover capacity, functioning in an undercover
capacity, or simply appearing in public in plain clothes.
(As a side note, has the LVMPD ever defined or clarified the policy since terminating the officer?)
“Hayes testified that he was never ‘made’ by a prostitute because of his website (the PMSA) and various arrests. How could he possibly
know? Hayes told Internal Affairs …that Grievant ‘did admit to him that he did tell the staff and management at the Peppermill that we
were undercover Vice Detectives.’ That was simply not true and pure embellishment on the part of Hayes.”
After a quote from Hayes was listed, the arbitrator wrote, “This was pure false conjecture on the part of Hayes. She (the suspected prostitute) did not even know why they were leaving at the time and she did not take a ‘good look’ at them. In reality, she ignored them.”
After another quote by Hayes (during his testimony or IA statement) the arbitrator wrote, “With that admitted state of the facts why in
the world would Hayes and his whole squad frequent that restaurant and then complain about an offhand comment made by Grievant to a waitress?
Hayes was clearly out to burn the Grievant that night in part because he erroneously believed that Grievant was out with a prostitute and in part because Hayes was upset with the Grievant about prior incidents…”
And there is still more: “Hayes obviously thought that Grievant was dating a prostitute and had them followed and told his crew that he
wanted to wait to see if she would give him a b*** job. He may think that is good police work, but it appears to be personal animosity.”
The Board (Pretermination Board headed by Joe Lombardo) concluded that Grievant had animosity toward Hayes when in fact his emotion was probably fear, and Hayes and Hank, who were evidently social friends, were the ones who had some animosity toward the Grievant.” [In early 2010, Captain Charles Hank was the subject of a domestic violence call/investigation for an incident involving his wife—but we already know how Metro ‘handled’ that investigation.] The arbitrator continued, “The Notice of Termination states that the waitress ‘told the undercover officers that you told her they were
undercover Vice.’ This is simply not true… It is concluded that Grievant’s comment to the waitress in this case was not a malevolent,
hostile revelation intended to bring harm to Hayes as evidently believed by the Department. Assistant Sheriff Lombardo testified that
there must be intent on a member’s part to violate the policy. He stated that the Pretermination Board believed the Grievant purposely
sought to disclose Hayes identity because of his animosity toward Hayes. It is concluded that the Board is entirely wrong in this regard. The evidence established that Hayes was the one operating on the basis of animosity, not Grievant… It must be concluded that the
Department failed to establish that Grievant violated this policy and therefore this charge cannot be sustained.”
The arbitrator then referred to the possible violation of the officer’s rights under NRS 289 (Nevada Police Officer Bill of Rights).
The officer’s sergeant (the one who Hayes called to complain to) “can ask Grievant what happened (at the Peppermill) but when he knows that an SOC (Statement of Complaint) is going to be initiated, he is certainly limited as to what he can do.” Since the charge was not
sustained, the arbitrator elected not to resolve the POBR issue.
I sure wish Captain Fasulo (and others) would be held accountable for interrogating me (and other officers) in blatant violation of NRS 289 — even now, long after the fact, because the problem could have been corrected. It won’t happen because they are ‘special’ members of the LVMPD who are directly responsible for much of the horrible morale and lack of trust that will continue to exist WITHIN the LVMPD.
Now if an arbitrator’s report can sustain a termination against an officer (as it did in this case) then why doesn’t Metro use the same
report and address the conduct of the officer’s accusers who had apparently convinced the same arbitrator to conclude that they were
liars — targeting a fellow employee and ending his career? Lt. Hans Walters and I testified on behalf of the officer by the way. Metro
then made Walters’ life miserable and we know the rest of that unfortunate story.
The highest ranking members of the LVMPD should have been reading the reports by various arbitrators and seeing the problems and patterns — and the unions should have been doing the same. But… it is what it is and it will continue to be what it has been at the LVMPD if
leadership does not change. Internal Affairs is supposed to be independent and objective (insulated from ‘politics’) but, instead,
they are used as a tool of the sheriff and he is able to reward ‘them’ handsomely.
Now — as enraged as I was to re-visit the arbitrator’s decision in the case discussed above… I was even more upset and appalled to read an Adjudication of Complaint signed by Captain Charles Hank in August of 2011 — after an officer resigned while under investigation for conduct that occurred in July of 2009. This officer remained a member of the LVMPD and was on patrol for a significant amount of time after the allegations were made against him even though the allegations included charges of criminal conduct. They threw the kitchen sink at the officer (misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and FELONY crimes) and claimed that his conduct was unbecoming a police officer. Ironically, Captain Hank had just made the news for allegedly beating his wife and that might be considered CONDUCT UNBECOMING? Did Hank lie about the event? Did he attempt to influence the investigation? Was he given a ‘get out of jail free’ card because he supported and did a commercial for Doug Gillespie in 2010?
Next week: Metro’s ‘armor-piercing bullets,’ which are charges known as CONSORTING WITH PERSONS OF ILL REPUTE, CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN EMPLOYEE and, BRINGING THE DEPARTMENT INTO DISREPUTE will be discussed. In preparation for that column, I sure wish I had access to the police ‘records’ for everyone donating/contributing money to the current (and past) sheriff’s campaigns or even for the donors to various LVMPD affiliated fundraisers.
If a candidate accepts money from a person with an arrest record or attends a function and ‘associates’ with one of these persons
(whatever ‘ill repute’ means), just how is that determined and how is it investigated? If an officer is concerned about the background of a
new ‘friend,’ he is not allowed to check the record of the person (‘curiosity checks’ are prohibited by Metro policy and are also illegal). The ‘Catch-22’ is that you can’t check on people you may know or have even brief associations with, but you can be held accountable (and fired) for these associations — without any proof that you could have avoided it.
There is no definition of ‘person of ill repute,’ which is yet another Metro policy failure! I can’t believe this is still in a police policy
manual. Are people who have passed background checks and have privileged licenses for the nightclub or topless club industry or
people that own sex tease businesses or dirty book stores persons of ill repute? How about tobacco and alcohol licensees? If we consider
what some people call ‘morality,’ there could be a wide net cast to define persons of ill repute. But when they have been given a license
to operate by our own police department and government officials, are they still considered ‘dirty’?
I think I’ll start checking ‘public records’ to find out how many owners of topless clubs have donated money under their actual business
name or under a ‘guise.’ Then maybe someone could do surveillance to see if the candidates have ever shaken hands or appeared at the same location with a person of ‘ill repute’… Oh yes — we will re-visit the G-Sting scandal and that long list of police officers, prosecutors, and Feds alleged to have been receiving ‘comps’ and other ‘favors’ that never were investigated and never were disciplined. Why does a ‘lowly’ police officer get fired or forced out and have their entire career destroyed and personal life damaged when so many others have fallen through the cracks? I’m convinced that those ‘cracks’ were intentionally made. Snitching (lying, embellishing facts, targeting) a good police officer because of personal animosities is pretty sad… but accepting the obvious double-standards and allowing special people to avoid accountability is even worse — aren’t we talking about a law enforcement agency here?
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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.