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What are they hiding? ‘Annual’ police accountability report discontinued

Updated June 22, 2023 - 4:12 pm

After publishing its first internal affairs accountability report in 2021 and promising to release it annually, the Metropolitan Police Department said this week it no longer produces the report.

The accountability report documented complaints made against police officers and the outcome of internal investigations into those complaints. According to the most recent report, it was intended to identify “emerging trends which may inform training development or revisions to policy and procedure.”

It also provided information about the Internal Affairs Bureau and how the investigative process works.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s internal affairs website currently includes two reports. The 2018 report is one page, while the 2018-19 report, released in 2021, is 37 pages long. Both provide a recap of the number of complaints made against department officers and a breakdown of the result of each complaint.

In a statement Wednesday, the department said that the decision to no longer produce the report was made by the previous administration and that producing the report did not suit the department’s “business needs.”

“There are no plans for the current administration to resume production of this report,” the department said in the statement.

Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said the decision to abandon production of the report after just one year is a red flag for the taxpaying public.

“To take a big step forward in transparency and accountability, promise more and then drop the entire thing without explanation is astounding,” Cook said. “Did the numbers get worse? What’s the public supposed to think?”

Metro and accountability

The public has two main ways to file complaints against Metro officers.

They can submit complaints to the Clark County Citizen Review Board, which is made up of 25 civilian volunteers. Findings made by the review board are public record, but its meetings are closed to the public, and complaints submitted by members of the public are confidential.

The other option is the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

In March, the Review-Journal filed a records request for the most recent internal affairs accountability report.

“The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department no longer produces the Internal Affairs Bureau Accountability Report,” the public records unit wrote in an April response. “The last published report is for 2018-2019, which has been uploaded to the portal for your review.”

However, in its 2018-19 report, the department noted that the report would be published annually.

Another allusion to the future of the report said that “in the years to come, this report will grow into a three-year statistical analysis.”

The Review-Journal asked Metro’s public information office repeatedly over the past two months when the decision to discontinue the report was made and why.

On Wednesday, after learning the Review-Journal planned to cover the reports for its “What Are They Hiding?” initiative, the department responded to a fourth request for comment saying it had “nothing to hide.”

But West Juhl, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said in an email Wednesday that the decision to not publish the reports was disappointing and that these reports are the “floor when it comes to transparency and accountability from our community’s police.”

“Without transparency, how can our community make sure that Metro, or any police agency, is truly serving our needs?” wrote Juhl, a former Review-Journal reporter.

The “What Are They Hiding?” column was created to educate Nevadans about transparency laws, inform readers about Review-Journal coverage being stymied by bureaucracies, and shame public officials into being open with the hardworking people who pay all of government’s bills. Were you wrongly denied access to public records? Share your story with us at whataretheyhiding@reviewjournal.com.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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