KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Two Las Vegas police officers caught speeding through northwest Arizona last month told dispatchers they were headed to court before they left town, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has learned.
They later told a Mohave County sheriff's deputy who wondered why they were on his turf, 80 miles from their assigned beat, that they were scouting locations for a photo shoot.
"They said that they were scouting the area for locations for something to do with K-9 photos," said Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan. "We were just concerned that it wasn't a stolen vehicle, and then that call (from his department to Las Vegas police dispatch) started the ball rolling."
Las Vegas police confirmed Monday that Metropolitan Police Department officers Brad Gallup and Jake Grunwald were put on paid administrative leave after their jaunt to Arizona. An internal investigation is ongoing.
The officers face discipline for several policy violations, including neglect of duty and abandonment of their post. Grunwald was hired by the department in January 2006, Gallup in June 2005. The officers are assigned to the Enterprise Area Command, near the south end of the Strip.
In his first public comments on the incident, Sheahan said Mohave County deputy Robert Oscar saw the marked Las Vegas patrol car the morning of Jan. 19 in the community of Dolan Springs, about six miles off U.S. Highway 93 north of Kingman.
Sheahan said that the car was traveling about 20 miles over the posted speed limit and that Oscar asked his dispatcher to contact Las Vegas police to determine if the vehicle might have been stolen.
Sheahan said that is how Las Vegas police learned the officers were out of jurisdiction.
Sheahan said Gallup and Grunwald stopped voluntarily after seeing that Oscar was following them. The sheriff said the deputy accepted their explanation for being in Arizona and didn't issue a speeding citation.
Sheahan said that Las Vegas police units sometimes go through Kingman because of the city's proximity to Laughlin, which is in the Metropolitan Police Department coverage area, but that it is unusual to see them in Dolan Springs. Pierce Ferry Road, which passes through Dolan Springs, is the main route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, about 40 miles northeast of the town.
Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan would not answer questions Wednesday pertaining to the investigation.
"We're not going to comment on an ongoing internal investigation," she said.
She confirmed, however, that the department does not have GPS tracking systems in patrol cars. She said dispatch and officers have two different software systems used to monitor and document the movements of patrol officers.
Morgan said officers document dispatch calls on in-car computers. The system allows officers to push a button to alert supervisors when they are en route to a call, have arrived or left the scene.
Officers also use the computers to document when they go to court, which is done by entering a code, and to report when their time in court is complete, Morgan said.
The department recently undertook sweeping changes to improve patrol officer safety. In late 2009, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie implemented new driving polices to change the department's "culture" after several officers died in on-duty traffic accidents. Some officers involved in the crashes were speeding and not wearing seat belts.
Officers were restricted from driving more than 20 mph over posted speed limits, except in vehicle pursuits. The amount of driver's training officers receive in their first five years doubled. Officers also were required to wear seat belts in most circumstances.
The two officers' journey out of state has caught the attention of some locals both in the public sector and with a watchdog organization.
Maggie McLetchie, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and a frequent critic of the police department, said patrol officers might need tighter supervision.
Reporter Mike Blasky contributed to this report. Contact Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638