Clark County DA’s office expanding gun crimes unit

The Clark County district attorney’s office is devoting additional resources to combat the spike in violent crimes affecting the valley so far this year.

Beginning in June, the gun crimes unit at the district attorney’s office will expand with the addition of one attorney to the four-person team. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said the prosecutor is being transferred from the general litigation unit and is a “rising star” eager to tackle the issue of gun violence.

“I’m increasing the number of lawyers that are going to do gun crime cases, and I’m increasing the types of cases this specialty unit is going to do,” Wolfson said Tuesday. “So more people who use guns are going to be prosecuted by this team.”

He said his attorneys can pursue gun cases to get dangerous criminals off the streets. Perpetrators who use a firearm while committing a crime likely will face charges with deadly-weapon enhancements that could add between two and 20 years to a prison sentence.

The district attorney said he regularly meets with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo on a variety of topics.

”We’ve had four or five discussions over the last 60 days about the uptick in violent crime in general and gun violence in particular,” Wolfson said.

The bulk of the cases the gun unit handles are armed robberies and home invasions. Wolfson said serial home invaders who brandish firearms and assault residents will be among the main targets for the expanded gun unit.

He said the team has a strong track record. Nearly 90 percent of the defendants prosecuted by the gun crimes unit are sentenced to prison, Wolfson said.

“At the end of the day, if you’re kicking in a door and you’re tying up a senior citizen, you’re going to go to prison,” he said.

Other teams will continue to handle some cases that involve guns, such as homicides.

The district attorney’s office also announced it is developing an educational program for middle and high school students that will be taught by deputy district attorneys, and it is working closely with the Metropolitan Police Department’s neighborhood engagement team to share information about people who “pose a chronic problem” in various neighborhoods.

Late last month Wolfson endorsed Question 1, a November ballot initiative that would expand firearm background checks to private party sales and transfers.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find @WesJuhl on Twitter.

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