Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said he will advocate for more resources for the mentally ill if he’s re-elected to a second term.
“The answer to everybody’s problem is to dial 911,” Lombardo said in a phone interview last week after filing for office. He said he wants his officers to have more tools at their disposal to better handle people suffering a mental health crisis.
Lombardo said many inmates in the Clark County Detention Center require help that’s not available in the county jail.
“That’s not the proper way to deal with those issues,” Lombardo said.
He said he supports increased funding for mental health facilities outside the department along with increased bed space to accommodate those in need of institutional help.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” Lombardo said. “We’d like to get them the resources.”
Specifically, he said it’s frustrating for police to place people on a Legal 2000 hold, a 72-hour medical hold reserved for people who are unable to care for themselves or who threaten to hurt themselves or others.
“We take them to the hospital and a short time later they’re back on the streets because of the lack of facilities,” Lombardo said.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sunday that those placed on such holds are often released early and fall into a cycle in which they are put back on the streets, then put back on a legal hold and returned to a hospital.
The sheriff said that if he’s re-elected, he would like the ability to hire additional officers to increase proactive, community policing.
He touted a reduction in crime rates and the department’s success in connecting ballistics evidence to solve series of crimes, rather than trying to solve individual cases.
The total number of reported violent crimes dropped about 1 percent in 2017 from 2016, according to Metropolitan Police Department numbers.
Lombardo was a Las Vegas police officer for about 30 years and previously ran Metro’s homeland security, search-and-rescue and patrol divisions. He was elected sheriff in 2014.
His opponents this year are former North Las Vegas officer Tim Bedwell, former Metro detective Gordon Martines and Clark County School District police union president Matt Caldwell, who filed to run Monday.