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Murder, Immigration And More With Metro Police

Associated Press

Crime never rests, especially in a 24-hour city like Las Vegas.

In that regard, 2017 has started off much like 2016.

As of Saturday night, 19 homicides have occurred in the Metro Police Department’s jurisdiction; 22 in all of Clark County.

At the current rate, Metro—that is, your community -- will end 2017 with about the same number of murders as in 2016, 166, which was a 20 percent increase from 2015.

Related to that is something more alarming. Police say two homeless men have been killed in recent weeks in the same general area of downtown Las Vegas.

Could the same person have committed both murders?

Here to talk about that and more policing issues is Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts, a 25-year-veteran on the Metro Police Department.

Discussion Highlights:

On the two homeless men who were killed:

It was very concerning to us. One death is concerning. We take every homicide seriously. You had these two that were strikingly similar in proximity and in the manner of death. And so, we felt like we needed to get that information out to the public for a couple of reasons. Obviously, to see if we couldn’t get any leads on this crime, because as of right now, we don’t really have a whole lot. And the second is to try to reach as many homeless as possible. Of course, we’re not going to do that with a media news conference. That’s why we hit the ground with an area canvas in an area over three or four days, trying to contact as many homeless people as we could.

On immigration enforcement:

We’re partners with our community. And there’s a significant undocumented population in our community. We become ineffective if we break that trust that we have with our community and we need that trust.

We are not going to perform immigration enforcement in the field. We will continue to do what we do in our jails to cooperate with federal immigration officials if we come across people that are undocumented, but outside of the jail we will not change a thing.

On why it’s important that Metro maintains the image that it won’t be part of the immigration enforcement:

In those communities, if people are afraid to call police when they actually need help, it can get into family violence, sexual misconduct within families, there would be a lack of reporting. There would be a lack of cooperation. And any time somebody was a victim, we would have difficulty solving that or bringing them to justice. That person can continue to offend.

It is important that we are an unbiased police force that protects everybody regardless of your immigration status.

On scooters and the rules surrounding them:

There was a change that was approached in the Legislature for several years because with scooters and mopeds. We had a lot of fatalities related to them. That was the driving force behind some regulation on them, because we really weren’t regulating scooters very well. They ended up passing something at the Legislature to get registration and to actually have drivers’ license, which has always been the case.

The other reason that some unregistered scooters are getting pulled over is because we have a high incident of scooter theft. A lot of scooters are stolen. That is another reason behind the registration.

On sex trafficking:

We’ve changed our philosophy. We used to approach prostitution and human trafficking as the women, or the prostitutes, as being suspects. We’ve really changed that to them being treated as victims, especially when you get into juveniles. Because there is a whole process in luring young women into human trafficking and it’s difficult to get them out. There’s a psychological strong hold between the trafficker and the victim. The more people we have involved, the more successful we are.    

Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police 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.