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New Policies At Metro Police Raise Questions

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Some officers do not like Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo's new policies.

There's a new sheriff in town. And Joe Lombardo has begun to do just what he said he'd do if elected: decentralize certain aspects of Metro's law enforcement duties.

Under the plan, detectives in specialized units will move from Metro’s headquarters to area commands. The idea is to get them closer to specific neighborhoods and the patrol officers that work in those neighborhoods.

Problem is, it sounds like some of his officers don't like it.

In a story in the Las Vegas Sun a week ago, anonymous sources said one of the departments that will suffer from the move is Metro's Domestic Violence detail. There are concerns that moving detectives in that unit would take away from their specialized work.

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told KNPR’s State of Nevada that the decentralization plan would allow detectives to focus on neighborhoods and be closer to the communities they police.

“The idea is to take a significant number of those detectives and give them to individual area commanders and give them the ability and the authority to deploy those detectives towards the crime that is driving in their specific geographic area,” McMahill said.

Officers, particularly in the robbery and gangs unit, are worried that with decentralized system it will be more difficult to share information.

McMahill disagrees with that idea and said there will be more information shared between detectives. He pointed to the department’s decentralization of property crimes unit several years ago. The unit had a solve rate of just 3 percent but now has a solve rate of 13 percent.

“We would be more laser like in finding those driving criminal activity,” McMahill said.

He also said that even after losing 450 officers from the peak in 2009 Metro has not changed its basic structure and the new plan will do that.

As for specific concerns about the domestic violence detail, McMahill said the department is going to create a Domestic Violence Assessment Center, which will provide wrap-around services for victims.

“We believe that having 25 or 26 detectives in an area command is going to provide that seven day level of service, longer hours other than what you would see today,” McMahill said.

McMahill read off some startling statistics: last year violent crime was up 8 percent, homicide was up 10 percent, assault with a deadly weapon were up 12 percent, auto theft was up 12 percent. He said the new plan will help tackle that.

“We believe we’re going to be much more effective by putting the investigators in the same location as the officers that are out there dealing with the community on a day to day basis,” McMahill said.

The decentralized plan will go into effect in July.


Kevin McMahill, Undersheriff, Clark County Sheriff's Department

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.