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LV police veteran steps into leadership void

With the future of the current police chief in limbo, the city manager has tapped former retired Metropolitan Police Deputy Chief Bill Conger of Las Vegas as acting police chief to fill the department’s leadership void, a move that was announced to the City Council on Tuesday.

Conger took command of the Boulder City Police Department on Wednesday morning, 12 hours after City Manager David Fraser and Conger made the announcement to the department Tuesday night.

Conger said he looked forward to meeting with the individual police officers and department heads “regarding issues they may have” and “issues the community needs to work on and we’ll get those things done.”

Conger said the biggest task for the department is re-establishing leadership.

“We’ve had a chief that’s been gone for a while and sergeants that are all equal ranks trying to get stuff done and maintain the course,” Conger said. “It’s a good police department, but there will be some things that need to be addressed.”

Conger walks into a department that is waiting the results of a recently completed outside audit ordered by the city, and is the center of an investigation being handled by the Henderson Police Department for a missing Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle.

Current Chief Thomas Finn has been on medical leave since Jan. 16.

“I’m going to be conducting my own audit almost immediately,” Conger said. “Departments get in trouble because of money, evidence and misbehavior. Those are the types of things that need to be addressed immediately.”

Fraser said Conger could be with the department weeks or month, but has full authority to run the department.

“He will exercise the full duties and authorities of chief of police,” Fraser said.

Mayor Roger Tobler said he wasn’t surprised by Fraser’s decision.

“That was one of (Fraser’s) options that he expressed to us that he would look at if he felt it needed to be done,” Tobler said. “It wasn’t out of the blue. He told me before he was going to look at this option.”

Fraser handed oversight of the department to Detective Sgt. John Glenn in a temporarily capacity Jan. 16 when Finn took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Finn’s leave expires April 16, but his future is unclear beyond that date.

“When Sgt. Glenn agreed to take on the responsibilities, I told him it would be short-term, not long-term,” Fraser said. “Because it seems like it will be a little bit longer, and because I want strong leadership over there.”

Fraser said Glenn did “yeoman’s work” during the past two months, and is grateful he took on the challenge.

Conger, a Vietnam veteran who spent six years as a helicopter pilot in the Army, joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 1975. He retired in 2005, but was one of 16 candidates who ran for Clark County sheriff in 2006. The third-generation Las Vegan spent 23 years of his 29-year police career in a leadership role and had experience handling multimillion-dollar budgets, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

He served in every division except jail while at Metro including SWAT, gangs, narcotics, patrol, traffic and was an academy instructor, Fraser said. Conger spent the past five years as a consultant for police departments across the country.

Conger was one of three finalists for Henderson police chief last year.

Fraser said Conger was one of five people he was considering for the acting chief position.

Tobler said he doesn’t know how much longer Finn will be gone, or if he will ever return.

“We’re having to fill the position with somebody so we have leadership,” Tobler said. “Hopefully it won’t go on much longer.”

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