What Las Vegas Metro Police Are Doing In The Wake Of The Orlando Shooting


AP Photo/Eric Jamison

With 40 million visitors a year, Las Vegas’ economy is driven by tourist-- just like Orlando.

We’re a diverse city, with many nightclubs -- just like Orlando.

UNLV, in fact, was ranked the second-most diverse university in the country  with students from many different ethnicities and cultures.

But does any of that mean Las Vegas Metro Police have to be more vigilante in light of the mass killing at an Orlando nightclub Sunday?

Metro Lt. Sasha Larkin said the protecting the Strip is vital because of how much it means to Southern Nevada. 

"We have so many people who come here and rely on us that we can't afford to have things go wrong down there," she said.

And while other police departments around the country might feel that the idea of policing such a large area with so many people would be daunting, Larkin views it another way.

"Look at all the eyes and ears I get to train to report suspicious activity," she told KNPR's State of Nevada, "Look at the army I can build if I educate all of these people how to recognize and report when something isn't right."

Larkin said officers in the two area commands that cover most of the tourist corridor work with the security personnel in the casinos to keep the area safe. 

She said the top-level security personnel at resorts are given security clearance to be part of intelligence briefings by Metro and the counter terrorism fusion center. 

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Larkin has been integral to the police department making inroads into the community of 30,000 Muslims in Las Vegas. Metro's ties to that community now are seen as a model for other departments around the country.

Larkin said building those bridges did not happen overnight but they were necessary not only to help find people in their community who might be self-radicalizing in Las Vegas but also to help fight simple street crime in their neighborhood.

"We wanted them to not only have a connectivity to Metro, but to call us when something wasn't right," she said, "We knew that they would hear and see things that we wouldn't."

Sgt. Ivan Chatman works along side Lt. Larkin on the community outreach division at Metro. He said Metro learns a lot by working with the Muslim community and other communities of faith, including what is considered respectful behavior among different faiths.

For instance, it is considered improper for a male police officer to shake the hand of Muslim woman. He said knowing those kinds of customs can help officers provide better service to communities. 

He said to build those bridges Metro officers didn't go to a neighborhood or faith organization once or twice but several times.

"It is human interaction," Chatman said, "They'll open up to you and be able to have a dialogue with you and then you're able to learn." 


Lt. Sasha Larkin, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Ivan 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada