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A letter to readers from RJ Executive Editor Glenn Cook

The country is talking about police accountability. This weekend, the Review-Journal will bring Southern Nevada into the national debate with a subscriber-exclusive investigation.

“Flawed Discipline,” a multi-story examination of police misconduct, internal affairs inquiries and department punishments, will appear Sunday in our print edition, on our website and on our mobile app.

The timing of this investigation’s publication is both fortunate and coincidental.

It’s fortunate because it can help inform policy proposals at all levels of government, including the Nevada Legislature and at police departments themselves, while also answering readers’ timely questions about how law enforcement agencies handle complaints against officers — and officers with repeated violations.

It’s coincidental that this investigation is being published so soon after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, after Floyd was arrested last year. Floyd’s murder triggered national protests, including one in downtown Las Vegas, after which Jorge Gomez was shot and killed by Las Vegas police on June 1. (A detailed review of the fatal shooting of Gomez was held April 16.)

All of these events triggered our own questions about internal police reviews. “Flawed Discipline” is the result of about eight months of work by investigative reporter Arthur Kane. We had no idea how or when these matters would be addressed by the justice system. As it happened, the final details of our project were settled this week, allowing us to bring it to you at this important time.

“Flawed Discipline” will create strong feelings in some readers. However it makes you feel, I ask that you take the time to read it in its entirety. This project is not about being pro-cop or anti-cop. It’s strictly about accountability and transparency, two principles increasingly embraced by police as essential to preserving the public’s trust.

In no way do we try to paint Southern Nevada police departments with a broad brush. This investigation is focused on officers who have had multiple misconduct allegations confirmed by internal affairs investigations and how their employers have responded. We know the overwhelming majority of our officers are good and honorable men and women. That’s why we asked for data on officers with clean disciplinary records. Turns out, police departments don’t track that.

We did not focus on police use of deadly force. The Review-Journal already conducted such an investigation, nearly 10 years ago, and the groundbreaking series led to major reforms within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “Deadly Force,” which can be read here, saved lives. I have no doubt about that.

Now we revisit how police investigate their own. As I mentioned at the top of this letter, “Flawed Discipline” is a subscriber exclusive. Nonsubscribers will not be able to access the project online until May 10. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you. If not, I hope you’ll support quality local journalism.

After you read “Flawed Discipline,” I’d love to know what you think about the investigation. Email me at gcook@reviewjournal.com.

Thank you for subscribing to the Review-Journal. Work like this would not be possible without your support of quality local journalism.

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