Roger resigns

Clark County District Attorney David Roger has been a model prosecutor. He has put away dangerous criminals and overseen a 600-employee office with a low-key professionalism that belies his fierce dedication to public safety.

That's what makes the elected official's pending retirement so disappointing.

In announcing that he would vacate his post Jan. 3, the 50-year-old Mr. Roger said Tuesday that he's interested in working for the union that represents Las Vegas police officers. And Chris Collins, executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, confirmed that he very much wants Mr. Roger on his legal staff.

It certainly appears that the men reached agreement on this deal long before Mr. Roger announced his retirement as district attorney.

The DA's office deals with Las Vegas police officers all the time, primarily as investigators but occasionally as potential suspects. Police who harm or kill civilians in the line of duty are not immune from prosecution. How Mr. Roger's office handles cases involving Las Vegas officers over the next two months will warrant exceptional scrutiny.

Mr. Roger has vowed that he'll recuse himself from the management of such cases until he formally announces where he'll work next. But Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, got it right when he said the DA's office shouldn't investigate any case involving police until Mr. Roger leaves office.

Mr. Roger will retire with a full pension -- 25 years on the job, plus five years of service credit purchased -- of around $150,000 per year for the rest of his life. Whatever he earns on top of that in his next job is gravy. He could have simply retired before considering career options. Or he could have decided against seeking re-election to a third and final term last year if he knew he didn't plan to complete the job.

Now the final three years of his term will be finished by at least one other person.

State law says the Clark County Commission must appoint an interim or permanent replacement at its first meeting after Mr. Roger's formal resignation. Given the significance of the office and the number of years left on the term, a special election would be far more appropriate.