WASHINGTON — Southern Nevada authorities are seeking to make greater use of thousands of front line resort workers such as valets and housekeepers to tip off police to shady behaviors and possible criminal and terrorist activity, Congress was told today.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said law enforcers are stepping up their outreach to the Strip and downtown hotels, and also to private guards who live and work in Las Vegas.
"In our community there are over 6,700 private security professionals, and thousands more valet attendants, housekeepers and bell captains, each poised and capable of detecting suspicious behaviors indicating criminal activity," Gillespie told a Senate homeland security subcommittee on preparedness.
"We are working to harness this incredible force multiplier," he said.
Gillespie said Las Vegas police are closing on an agreement for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to pay for an analyst to work within the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center.
The so-called "fusion center" is where representatives of 13 federal, state and local agencies — roughly 60 professionals — work fulltime to monitor potential threats of all kinds.
The new analyst would sift through reports and tips from hotels, where workers have been trained to report suspicious activities.
"Aides, the bellfolks, valets, walk around these businesses all the time," Gillespie said in an interview after the hearing. "We get a lot of calls now about suitcases and packages, things where years ago they just picked it up and threw it in the garbage or put it in lost and found."
With the addition of an analyst dedicated to the resorts, "we are looking to make that more of a day-to-day type function within the fusion center," Gillespie said.
"I think it is very foolish of us to live in the community that we do and not to incorporate that aspect of the community," he said.
Gillespie added authorities "recognize and completely understand" the civil liberties concerns of integrating the private sector into stepped up law enforcement.
"I firmly believe we can work that out," he said.
Gillespie described the workings of the Southern Nevada fusion center at a hearing on how state, local and federal officials were working to combat drug trafficking and other crimes.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.
PDF of Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s testimony