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Las Vegas police ‘tired of scraping people up off the streets,’ sheriff says

An increase in citing traffic violators has not resulted in a corresponding decrease in fatal crashes so far, Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Monday.

As of Monday morning, there have been 45 traffic-related fatalities in the Metropolitan Police Department’s jurisdiction this year. At this point last year, there had been 27 such fatalities in Metro’s jurisdiction, according to McMahill; a total of 158 occurred in 2023.

McMahill appeared on Nevada Public Radio’s “State of Nevada” along with Andrew Bennett, director of Clark County’s Department of Traffic Safety, to talk about the deadly start to 2024 on Southern Nevada roads.

“We’re just frankly really tired of scraping people up off the streets here in Las Vegas,” he said.

Over the last “couple of months,” McMahill said, he has directed police resources to focus on traffic violations that lead to crashes, rather than equipment violations. He said this has resulted in a 200-plus-percent increase in the number of citations issued.

“We haven’t seen a corresponding decrease in the number of fatality accidents,” McMahill said.

Metro is partnering with the county and the Regional Transportation Commission to use data about the most dangerous intersections to coordinate officer deployment, he said.

McMahill said penalties for drunk drivers who cause death are not stiff enough.

“We still don’t have a charge of homicide that you can charge a driver with who intentionally gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and then causes another individual’s death,” he said. “Personally, I would like to see that change.”

On Saturday, Las Vegas police conducted a “DUI Blitz” which resulted in 94 citations, 20 DUI arrests and five other arrests, according to the sheriff.

McMahill said DUI checkpoints require a dramatic number of officers to conduct and cause an inconvenience to the public.

“We process a large number of drivers and we get a few DUI arrests,” he said. “While we still continue to do those, I’m not sure that’s the most efficient use of my resources.”

On Sunday night, a 53-year-old driver ran a red light in Spring Valley before crashing into a concrete barrier. The unidentified man died at the hospital.

McMahill reiterated his desire for red light cameras to be installed on Las Vegas Valley roads. He suggested starting with the 20 most deadly intersections.

Bennett said bills to support automated traffic enforcement have not passed in the last two legislative sessions, but he expected another effort in the next session.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com.

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