November 4 will be a major turning point with Metro and the community.
There will be nearly two months for the transition to occur, but those two months will also give current employees a chance to absorb the ‘WIN’ or ‘LOSS.’
Only one candidate is talking about what he will do WITH the community — and that is Larry Burns. Only one candidate has experience working in collaboration with various community groups that have an interest in improvement — and that is Larry Burns. Only one candidate has already demonstrated a phenomenal ability to build trust and inspire his own people — and that is also Larry Burns.
Joe Lombardo, on the other hand, has spent much of his career in non-patrol assignments with minimal public contact — certainly not on uniformed foot patrol in public housing projects! He has been assigned to plainclothes or ‘special’ assignments units (i.e., Vice/Narcotics) or as a supervisor of these units and this often impairs the ability of a police officer to TRUST and COMMUNICATE.
I’ve never read a single story of community outreach by Lombardo while working as a police officer — only while a candidate. His publicity machine went into high gear when ‘election season’ started and he has now spent more time ‘posing’ for public appearances such as media interviews, speeches, and parades. There is an urban dictionary term, ‘poser,’ which means, “One who pretends to be someone who he is not.”
Posing or pretending is NOT what Las Vegas needs at this critical time. Plenty of reports indicate that Lombardo is not extroverted and outgoing. The Las Vegas Sun described him as a ‘policy wonk’ and he certainly has not endeared himself to many current members of the LVMPD — only those who want to pay for promotions… or who have obtained other promises for their support.
Las Vegas needs a ‘people’s person,’ not a poser or pretender and the voters have a chance to elect the man who can those addressed in a Lawrence Mower report published almost two years ago in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Mower moved to Florida after the RJ ran stories on Metro such as The Making of a Cop; and in late 2010, the Deadly Force When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kills in late 2011. Maybe he didn’t feel ‘safe’ or ‘welcome’ in the valley after writing such critical and revealing stories.
The title of the January 4, 2013 story was Study: Las Vegas police bias, morale are low. I suppose it is a good thing to rate low on the bias scale but it is a bad thing to rate low on the morale scale. So in case the readers/voters missed it, here are some excerpts from the study group based in Southern California at UCLA.
“Las Vegas police officers display little racial bias, but their morale is low, and many cops don’t believe the department treats them fairly, a two-year study shows.
The report, based on a survey of nearly two-thirds of the department’s cops, found officers who felt least connected to the department were most likely to use severe force against blacks, but not Hispanics or
“There’s a segment of the department that feels as if they are being accused of something that they shouldn’t be accused of. They resent that, and that’s translating into negative behaviors on the street,” said Phillip Atiba Goff, executive director of research for the UCLA-based Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie vowed at a Friday news conference to implement the consortium’s recommendations.
“I was very impressed by what I read this morning,” Gillespie said. “My department needs to be willing to grow with this community, face its problems and rectify them in a public and transparent way.”
The sheriff reached out to the consortium in 2009, before a spike in officer-involved shootings began to draw local and national scrutiny.
The consortium’s study comes on the heels of a critical report by the U.S. Department of Justice, which late last year found the agency’s use-of-force policies were cumbersome and its training inconsistent.
The Justice Department’s 75 findings and recommendations included specialized training for officers in “fair and impartial policing.”
The survey of nearly 2,200 officers included questions about department policies, fairness and diversity issues. Nearly 200 more officers volunteered for a longer survey about racial issues that compared responses with their history of citizen complaints and use of force. Goff called it one of the most comprehensive and in-depth studies of a police department by an academic institution. The study did not single out or provide a number for biased officers on the force, nor does it compare Las Vegas police with other departments.
“It’s not that there’s rampant racist officers out there — that is simply not the case,” Goff said.
Still, the study does show that negative feelings about blacks are associated with more severe uses of force, such as shootings. Although Goff declined to draw conclusions based on that data, it might help explain findings of other groups.
Last year the Justice Department, drawing on data from a yearlong Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation of police in Southern Nevada, found that seven out of 10 unarmed people shot by Las Vegas cops in five years were black.
And a 2001 Nevada attorney general’s office report on treatment of people during routine traffic stops showed that Las Vegas police handcuffed black motorists at a far higher rate than others.
The consortium study also found that: The more an officer expected respect from residents, the more complaints were made about the officer. Those who said being a cop was important to their identity drew fewer complaints. Officers who feel they’re treated well by the department were less likely to engage in biased use of force.
While the study itself doesn’t compare Las Vegas with other agencies, Goff said overall biases by officers here were lower than other departments. But Las Vegas cops bucked the trends in other departments when it came to morale and diversity training, he said.
When asked about the department’s diversity training, the most common response from cops was the most negative choice, “not at all valuable.”
That was unusual, Goff said.
“Diversity training usually gets high marks, particularly in surveys like this,” he said.
White officers were significantly more negative toward diversity training than nonwhite officers, the study found. When asked to elaborate, one officer wrote that his nonwhite instructor “spoke to the class like we were a room full of inmates being punished.”
Another officer wrote: “All diversity training basically states that if you are white you are wrong, and that everyone else’s culture takes precedence over society’s established norms.”
In conversations with the study’s authors, officers said the resentment toward such training has become prevalent only recently in light of media scrutiny and the department’s response to it.
A negative attitude went hand-in-hand with a feeling that the department treats officers unfairly, the study found.
On a scale of one to six, with six being highest, officers rated the agency’s procedural justice a 3.2 — “markedly lower than ideal,” the study’s authors wrote.
“It does suggest that the department, as a whole, feels a degree of ambivalence towards elements of authority within LVMPD,” they wrote.
To change, the consortium recommended the department integrate diversity training into other training, such as use-of-force sessions.
They also recommended requiring upper management undergo “science of contemporary bias” training, creating an officers’ advisory council that reports to the sheriff, and rewarding excellence.
A recommendation to monitor situations where officers stop pedestrians drew praise from Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which has been critical of the department.
“I was happy to see that,” he said. “We’ve been asking for it for a long time now. Let’s see if the department really does it or just gives it lip service.”
Goff said the department’s effort can measure officers’ interactions with the public.
He wants to standardize such data collection among multiple agencies.
Gillespie said there shouldn’t be a financial impact in implementing the changes, but Goff said success requires a buy-in from the public.
“This is a community issue, in addition to being a training and internal issue,” Goff said.
So since Sheriff Gillespie vowed to implement the report’s recommendations, did he?
So since Gillespie also stated, “My department needs to be willing to grow with this community, face its problems and rectify them in a public and transparent way,” has he?
And was it true that Gillespie ‘reached out’ to the consortium as early as 2009?
Did Metro develop a method of monitoring pedestrian stops or just engage in ‘lip service’ as the ACLU feared?
In my opinion, what is more important than anything else in the study was the finding that the department treats officers unfairly causing
negative attitudes… that officers rated the agency’s ‘procedural justice’ low, and that the department, as a whole, feels a degree of ambivalence towards elements of authority WITHIN the LVMPD. It seems like the public trust and support for Metro has declined but there is no dispute that the trust within Metro has reached the lowest of lows.
This comes from overt favoritism (also called ‘relationship building’). It comes from promotional systems that have gone from somewhat fair and objective with outside raters to ‘in-house’ control and bias by various screening boards with members handpicked by the regime. It also comes from a system of inconsistent and selective discipline which leaves many officers feeling that they have been targeted or are on someone’s ‘list’ and they lose their motivation and
self-esteem and they decide to ‘retire on the job’ (ROTJ). This sad state of affairs also comes from the feeling that things won’t change without an upset victory in November… a turning point for what was once one of the FINEST POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN AMERICA.
With UNITY between the police and the community (and within the LVMPD itself) everyone will be more motivated and more positive and those turning points will be less difficult. There is only one candidate who has the leadership skills to inspire, implement, and finalize changes that are so urgently needed at this time. His name is Larry Burns and
he developed those skills though a lifetime of leadership — NOT an ‘accelerated’ college degree program for special people who were given a special education for the very purpose of being able to use it to advance themselves as opposed to the safety of the citizens in Las Vegas.
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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.