Joe Lombardo, who takes the sheriff’s helm in January, would like collective bargaining to be more open to the public.
In a wide-ranging interview with “KNPR’s State of Nevada,” Lombardo also said he will push for more body cameras for police. And he admitted that as medical marijuana businesses begin to operate soon, police don’t yet have a way to tell real from fake medical marijuana cards.
And as he moves the department to keep decreasing the number of police-involved shootings, he said he will tap into the decades of experience of Ted Moody, who ran against him for sheriff.
But his first goal, he said, will be to hire more cops.
“Primary goal, my first day of taking office is hiring more police officers,” Lombardo said.
He said preventing crime is much better than making arrests after a crime has happened.
The trick for hiring more cops will be the funding.
The Clark County Commission has tabled the request for a tax to pay for more cops. He said city and county leaders should make public safety a priority. He said a long-term funding solution needs to be found.
He said the department will have a $25 million deficit and could reach the point of layoffs, if that long-term answer is not found.
A little-known fact about Lombardo is he is the first sheriff’s candidate to win an election without the support of the Las Vegas police union.
Lombardo said he believes there is a place for unions, however he would like collective bargaining to be more transparent and open to the public.
He also said he was thankful for the union’s push back on body cameras because it gave them a chance to identify nuisances in the program they may have missed.
The sheriff-elect said he will be pushing for more officers to be equipped with body cameras.
“They ensure the police department is professional and that they’re doing what we want them to do,” Lombardo said.
He said several complaints from citizens have been dispelled by looking at the video captured by body cameras.
He also said the recent protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri could have been prevented if the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown had been wearing a body camera.
“Would there had been the push back in Ferguson, if he had had a camera?” Lombardo said.
He credits the department’s outreach to the community for preventing the kind of violence seen in other cities following the grand jury decision on the Ferguson shooting.
“We garnered those people together. We asked for help to reach out to the community to quell protests,” Lombardo said.
He said officers reached out to formal and informal community leaders ahead of the grand jury’s decision so they could talk to the people in the community about not staging violent protests.
Only a quiet pray vigil was held in Las Vegas the night of the decision, while other communities saw protests.
Lombardo also responded to the problem of officer-involved shootings in southern Nevada. The problem has decreased recently and he credits changes in accountability and supervision within the department.
He also plans on tapping one of his opponents in the race for help on the issue of officer-involved violence. Former assistant sheriff Ted Moody spoke out against officer-involved shootings and how the department handled them.
Lombardo said he plans on using Moody as a resource to further lower the number of cop shootings.
The sheriff-elect does not however plan to fight the expansion of medical marijuana in the state. He says voters approved it and therefore it is the law.
However, he does say there are gaps in the law that need to be addressed, including regulations for driving under the influence of marijuana. Currently, there is a two-nanongram legal limit on the active ingredient in marijuana, which means people who use it for medical purposes could be considered driving under the influence even if they are not impaired.
He also said there is the problem of knowing if a medical marijuana card is real.
“There is no way to determine what is a real card, and what is a fake card,” Lombardo admitted.
Lombardo believes one of the keys to improving safety in southern Nevada is the expansion of community policing. He said that as neighborhoods in the city continue to move from being transient to becoming established it is important to have the police know the people in that neighborhood.
“When you have established neighborhood. Police officers walking the beat and getting out of the car is important,” Lombardo said. “To have a police officer you know by name.”
Joe Lombardo, Clark County Sheriff-Elect
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