Will the Las Vegas Police address problems found in a recent study?
For many years, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) has been under fire. Enormous fire.
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Back in the 1980’s it almost seemed that someone was shot by police on a regular basis with some of the shootings resulting in death. More disturbingly, the officers involved in the deadly shootings appeared to face no discipline whatsoever.
That reputation has continued for the next 20 years.
Of course perception is not always reality and there are many other factors to consider.
The LVMPD deals with huge amounts of tourists and, in order to protect the city’s reputation as a top tourist destination spot, people must feel safe and, let’s face it, they have to protect themselves too.
In that regard, the LVMPD has an excellent reputation for nabbing fugitives and also does a stellar job of working to keep the Las Vegas Strip safe.
Still the perception, and possible reality, persists.
Last year, the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) , who is hired by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS), began an examination of the LVMPD to review the department’s ‘use of force’ rules, policies and procedures to ensure the LVMPD properly addresses community concerns.
It seems that the department attracted the attention of the Justice Department because of the high number of officer involved shootings.
After those findings were presented, Sheriff Gilepsie seemed very receptive to the findings and announced changes. He said that the LVMPD would release deadly force documents that have never been available to the public before.
He also authorized the release of Force Investigative Team (FIT) reports on the use of deadly force by officers as well as an Office of Internal Oversight (OIO) review detailing recommended corrective actions.
Those items are now available on the LVMPD.com website.
Metro also revamped their ‘use of force’ rules to encompass three key criteria; the preservation of life, having less reliance on escalating situations and more direction in using nonlethal force.
At the time, Sheriff Doug Gillespie says this overhaul of the ‘use of force’ rules is intended to restore public faith in the department.
Now, another study of the LVMPD has been completed. This one is from the Consortium for Police leadership and Equity (CPLE) who began their research in 2010 after Sheriff Gilespsie requested it.
The research was focused on Use of Force, Deadly Force and Internal Equity and included reviews of 20 years of data on Use of Force.
The comprehensive study, overall, was a mixed bag. Although racial bias might not be widely prevalent, it does exist and the study did hint at morale issues. Nearly two-thirds of the department participated.
Although the study found that overall officers were treated fairly, regardless of race, white female officers did not share that perception, at least procedurally.
Diversity training for the department was also an issue. The findings suggest that the perception of white officers is that they feel they are automatically assumed to be biased.
The study also found that officers who felt the least connected to the department were the ones most likely to use severe force against blacks, but, interestingly not against Hispanics or whites.
The CPLE study made a number of recommendations and Sheriff Gilepsie has again appeared to be very receptive to the findings.
At Friday’s News Conference, he said
I was very impressed by what I read this morning. My department needs to be willing to grow with this community, face its problems and rectify them in a public and transparent way.
Will the Las Vegas Police address problems found in the recent CPLE study?
Time will tell, however, the Sheriff appears to be open-minded and committed to moving the department forward.
The full report can be accessed on the LVMPD website.