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Las Vegas police change tactics, resulting in a 200% increase in traffic citations


Las Vegas police and county authorities are pushing for new laws and shifting resources to combat a growing number of traffic deaths in Clark County.

This year so far, 45 people have died in traffic crashes; it was 27 this time in 2023. About half of those were pedestrians who were hit by vehicles.

Talking to State of Nevada on Monday, Kevin McMahill, sheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said that for the last two months, police have been increasing enforcement of traffic laws.

That’s resulted in a 200% increase in citations. It hasn’t yet seemed to decrease people who drive through red lights or speed, but McMahill also acknowledged it will take time for the enforcement to be seen by enough drivers to make an impact on driving habits.

At the same time, he’s talking more openly about how he hopes state lawmakers will pass legislation allowing for red-light cameras when they meet in 2025. The cameras can photograph drivers who run red lights, then issue citations. McMahill said he’s gotten significant “backlash” to the idea from residents. Still, he said, it’s an idea he wants to try at about 20 of the deadliest intersections.

“Let’s try and after one or two years see how it works,” he said.

Metro is also partnering with the Clark County Office of Traffic Safety to share data on intersections, traffic accidents and more data in an effort to come up with more solutions.

“We’re just frankly really tired of scraping people up off the streets,” he said.

Andrew Bennett, director of the traffic safety office, said there’s also an effort to prevent the wholesale reduction, even erasure, of traffic citations in the court system. He also acknowledged that the driver patience is wearing thin, with so much road construction. At the same time, city, county, state and federal public works authorities don’t always work together to make sure they aren’t bottling up adjacent roads at the same time.

“There are conversations about how to coordinate better to try to minimize the number of arterials that are back-to-back torn up at the same time.”

One of the police department’s frustrations, McMahill added, is that some of the penalties for impaired driving that results in death don’t seem strong enough. Already this year, over about three months, his officers have made about 1,400 DUI arrests.

“It just continues and continues and continues,” he said. “A big part of the problem is people just aren’t held accountable in the criminal justice system.”

Guests: Kevin McMahill, sheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Andrew Bennett, director, Clark County Department of Traffic Safety

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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.