Las Vegas cops create art, raise money at ‘Cops & Canvas’

Metropolitan Police Department officer Darryl McDonald, 37, didn’t always plan to be a cop.

He graduated from UNLV with a focus on architecture and sculpture in 2005 and designed custom pools until the economy went downhill.

In 2009, he joined the police force out of his faith-instilled desire to lead a life of service. “I wanted something consistent, where I can actually go out and serve people,” McDonald said.

On Thursday evening at Fashion Show mall, the desire to serve was on full display as officers showcased the art they had created for a benefit auction.

The “Cops & Canvas” event was sponsored by Friends of the LVMPD Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides funds for training, equipment purchases such as body cameras, and even has a reserve fund to aid fallen officers’ families.

At Neiman Marcus, about 100 people gathered in the posh Mariposa room in full view of the Strip, bidding silently on the two dozen pieces of art as they indulged in wine and appetizers.

Tom Kovach, executive director of Friends of the LVMPD, said the event was not only designed to raise money for the foundation, but also to show a different side of the officers.

“They’re there to keep us safe, but sometimes people take it for granted,” Kovach said. “They have talents and creativity beyond their day jobs.”

Photographs, paintings and jewelry were among the items up for bid. McDonald’s art piece stood out: a 36-by-20-inch American flag made out of nearly 5,000 9 mm shell casings. “I’d never dealt with that type of medium before. It was something different that I thought would be cool,” McDonald said.

It took many hours to complete the piece. “Endless nights,” McDonald said with a chuckle. “It’s like reading a good book, you just can’t drop it,” he added.

The inspiration for the piece, titled “America Backs the Blue,” came during January’s “True Blue” community safety month when the city’s government buildings were lit in blue.

McDonald’s piece sold for $5,000.

McDonald does other works of art of for charitable purposes; in November, he donated a sculpture to the First Choice Pregnancy Center.

“That’s a good way to express who I am,” McDonald said. “I build off of an emotion or a feeling.”

Contact Brooke Wanser at Follow @Bwanser_LVRJ on Twitter.

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