Metro Police Needs Minorities, But Will They Come?


Associated Press

As the country moves into an era with a president-elect who makes no excuses about how he feels about undocumented immigrants, there are questions on how this will effect Las Vegas.

Why? Well, Las Vegas is already, by some accounts, a minority-majority city – whites are less than 50 percent of the population.

At the same time, one of Clark County’s biggest needs is in policing. A massive effort is underway to recruit hundreds of new cops here.

As part of that effort, Metro Police wants to recruit minorities; it wants to reflect the community it polices.

But as one of the most visible symbols of government, does the rhetoric coming from Donald Trump make it that much harder for police to engage with the minority community?

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, second-in-command of the department, talked to KNPR's State of Nevada on Metro's recruitment efforts.


McMahill told KNPR's State of Nevada that the department needs to do a lot more to recruit Hispanic and female officers. LVMPD would like to reflect the communities it serves. 

The undersheriff said recruiting from communities of color and women will be part of the new effort to hire more police under the More Cops sales tax that was approved the Legislature.  

Support comes from

“That is a big part of a lot of this effort we have with this new tax that we’re going hire about 270 new police officers,” he said.

He said Sheriff Joe Lombardo's multi-cultural affairs committee helps with those efforts along with unions representing minority police officers.

Click here for more information on the police academy and recruitment at Metro Police


President-elect Donald Trump talked a lot of about illegal immigration during the election and at one point said there would be a deportation force.

McMahill said although Metro Police would follow and enforce any laws that are put on the books he doesn't believe the department will change its policy on enforcing immigration laws. 

“The immigration issue is a federal law enforcement issue," he said, "It has not been a local law enforcement issue.”

He said while Southern Nevada's murder and violent crime rate is "out of control" and the department is trying to get it back under control, adding extra law enforcement efforts is not likely. 

“But local law enforcement taking on the added responsibility of arresting people for immigration violations that is a huge, unfunded mandate that I don’t see any role for us in at this point,” he said.  


On Election Day, Nevada voters approved the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana. 

McMahill said since the specifics of the law have not be worked out yet he could not speak in detail about what will be legal under the measure and what will not. He said the same thing about the new background check for all gun sales and transfers.

However, McMahill pointed out there is a strange phenomenon surrounding legalized marijuana, because the drug is still illegal under federal law, which means pot retailers, distributors and growers can't use the banking system and are cash only.  

Despite that dichotomy, he is doubtful that the slow march of legalized marijuana will be turned back completely. 

McMahill did clarify that Metro Police officers have not arrested people for possessing a small amount of pot for a long time.

“The vast majority of what we have done over the course of the last couple of years is at best write a citation for a person with a pocket full of weed,” he said.

The ballot measure will not change Metro's drug-free policy, McMahill said.



Kevin McMahill, undersheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department 

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