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The state of crime in Las Vegas: Murders down, auto thefts up 36 percent

Updated February 26, 2024 - 7:26 pm

Violent crime, killings and robberies were down but auto thefts spiked and there were still too many traffic deaths in the Las Vegas Valley, Sheriff Kevin McMahill said in a speech that summarized 2023 for the Metropolitan Police Department.

“You commit homicide in our community, you are going to prison,” McMahill said during his 2024 State of the Department speech at the Sphere on Monday morning, highlighting what he said was the Metro Homicide Section’s 92 percent solve rate. Murders were down 12 percent in 2023.

An annual speech given by the sheriff to an audience of largely police officials and political leaders, the State of the Department address is an opportunity for the sheriff to give an overview of the issues faced by Metro during the previous year.

For McMahill, who was sworn in on Jan. 2, 2023, Monday’s address was also a chance to take stock of his first full year in office as well as outline some of his priorities.

The rate of solving killings was just one of the stats, good and bad, that he mentioned.

Violent crimes overall were down 9.93 percent, sexual assaults were down 19.8 percent, larceny/theft offenses were down 3 percent, burglaries were down 7.9 percent and robberies were down 19.4 percent, he said.

But auto thefts were up 36.5 percent.

“This is the area where we did not do well at all,” McMahill said of the spike in stolen vehicles. “In fact, I consider it to be a failure.”

Citing the huge social media-fueled spike in the thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles around the country, McMahill said reducing auto thefts will be one of Metro’s priorities for 2024.

In his 2023 State of the Department address, McMahill set an ambitious goal of a 10 percent reduction in overall crime in 2023.

While there were significant drops in certain types of crime, notably the almost 10 percent drop in violent crimes, overall crime inched up 0.7 percent in 2023, as compared with 2022, said Metro spokesperson Officer Bob Wicks.

“Violent crime was down, which was a big win for him in his book,” Wicks said of McMahill.

On the traffic front, there were 158 people killed in traffic-related incidents, McMahill said, which was a slight rise from the 152 deaths in 2022 and 151 in 2021, according to Metro statistics.

That total is far too many, the sheriff said, and he again called for the use of red light and speed cameras in Metro’s jurisdiction.

“I’m sick and tired of the fact that the driving behaviors of people here in Southern Nevada are as bad as they are,” McMahill said.

The sheriff said he would advocate for a “limited deployment” of red light cameras.

“If we can pick the top 20 intersections where red lights are being run, let’s see if it works to change the behavior,” McMahill said.

In his 2023 address, given on Feb. 8, 2023, the then-newly sworn in McMahill spoke of his “Injecting Humanity” initiative, which prioritizes the well-being of Metro officers and employees.

The larger goal, he has said, is to implement a culture of humanity within the police department that would then emanate out into the community. He picked up again on the initiative in his Monday speech and said Metro would “double down” on fostering this culture in 2024 so that it helps build community releationships.

“We’re going to continue to go out and find ways of getting into our communities, into places that that maybe don’t necessarily want us, that maybe necessarily don’t believe us because of our past actions,” McMahill said. “But we’re going to continue to find ways to make a substantial difference.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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