Hiring of new North Las Vegas officers scrutinized

An audit meant to clear up questions about how North Las Vegas managed more than $34 million in sales tax funds it received to hire additional police officers is complete, with mixed results for the city.

The audit of the city’s More Cops fund, completed in June, found the city properly used the funds to hire new police officers in most cases.

But the audit, performed by the Las Vegas office of Kafoury, Armstrong & Co., also noted the city shifted five police officers already on the payroll to positions funded by More Cops without immediately filling their existing positions — an action auditors characterized as “noncompliance,” in violation of More Cops requirements. Those shifts represented almost $1.8 million charged to the More Cops fund, the audit said.

The original More Cops initiative, enacted in 2005, stated funds raised through a quarter-cent sales tax to hire and equip additional police officers could not be used to “replace or supplant existing funding” for police departments.

The audit also found the city failed to correct payroll mistakes that led to $85,777 being incorrectly charged to the More Cops fund, kept inconsistent records of equipment purchases and didn’t complete required paperwork when transferring officers in and out of the More Cops fund.

Still, several North Las Vegas officials said Friday that the audit proves the city appropriately handled the funds, and that any “minor” violations could be chalked up to human error.

“I was confident we had done nothing wrong, and I knew it would come out this way,” Mayor Shari Buck said.

But Councilman Richard Cherchio, who was among those who originally criticized how the funds were being used, said he still has his doubts.

“Overall I think we could have done a better job honoring the spirit of the More Cops initiative,” he said. “But I’m satisfied with the audit.”

Police and other officials began raising questions about the fund’s management early last year. They said the city violated the spirit of the More Cops sales tax in February 2008 when it shifted 32 police officers already on the payroll from positions paid for by its general fund and a separate public safety tax fund known as “Safe Streets 2000” to positions funded by More Cops. Such a move improperly replaced existing funding with More Cops funding, they said.

City management, meanwhile, insisted it did nothing wrong, and that the whole controversy stemmed from an administrative mistake.

Funding for those 32 officers, some of whom had been on the force more than a year, was meant all along to come from More Cops, former City Manager Gregory Rose said last year.

The audit found 30 instances in 2008 in which proper paperwork was not completed when transferring officers in or out of the More Cops fund. City management, in a written response to the finding, said “confirmation and authorization” for the transfers “was done by e-mail.”

The audit looked at the city’s use of More Cops funding from Oct. 1, 2005, through Sept. 30, 2009. More Cops funded 78 North Las Vegas police officers, including their salaries, retirement and health insurance expenses, vehicles and other expenses.

Acting City Manager Maryann Ustick was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment. Nor could Acting Chief of Police Joseph Chronister, who expressed concerns last year that the city’s handling of More Cops funds could affect its ability to get more such funds in the future.

Councilwoman Anita Wood said “overall, the city is pretty pleased with the results of the audit.”

“Were we perfect? No,” she said. “But this shows us where we need to improve our record keeping so this won’t happen again in the future.”

Wood said the city and Council will now “review the audit very carefully and come up with a corrective action report.”

She said the city might wind up making up any More Cops funds that were misspent. She noted that city management, in response to the audit’s findings, argued it shifted only two — not five — officers already on the payroll to positions funded by More Cops without immediately filling their existing positions.

Voters narrowly approved the More Cops measure. An advisory question, it initially called for a half-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for 1,700 new officers among the five police departments in Clark County. It was meant to reduce crime and help the departments keep up with the booming population growth.

The Legislature split the tax in half, requiring that the issue be revisited in 2009 before the second quarter-cent tax was imposed.

A bill to authorize the second quarter-cent sales tax in support of More Cops died in the Legislature last year because of the shaky economy.

The valley’s top cops had testified that the first quarter-cent tax funded hundreds of new police officers valleywide and brought crime down across Southern Nevada.

Gregory Rose resigned as city manager late last year, shortly after the More Cops controversy became public. He and city officials said his departure had nothing to do with the controversy.

Reached by phone Friday, Rose said he still believes the city handled its More Cops funding appropriately.

“Any time you have a person involved in the accounting process, mistakes can be made,” he said. “Those mentioned in the audit seem pretty minor in the overall scope of things.”

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@review
journal.com or 702-383-0285.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Multi-agency DUI Strike Team focused solely on arresting impaired drivers
The newly formed DUI Strike Team made up of Las Vegas police officers and Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers have hit the streets looking for impaired drivers. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christmas Tree Inspection
Nevada Division of Forestry employees search for illegally harvested Christmas trees in local lots during the holidays. (Michael Scott Davidson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead in a suspected DUI crash in east Las Vegas
The crash was reported just before 4:10 a.m. at Washington and Eastern avenues.
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like