Las Vegas crime prevention specialist ends career after 35 years

“Protect and serve” is much more than a slogan to the Cassell family. It’s been a way of life.

Police officer Carl Cassell moved his family from Oklahoma to Las Vegas in 1964, joining the city of Las Vegas force, which ultimately became the Metropolitan Police Department with the 1973 city-county police merger.

Kathy Cassell’s retirement Oct. 19 marked the first time since 1964 that a Cassell hasn’t been on the Las Vegas police force. Brother Chuck Cassell retired from the force. So did uncle Bill Cassell, whose son, Marc, works for the Henderson Police Department. Brother Mick Cassell works for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

And brother Greg Cassell, the only sibling who at an early age wanted to be a firefighter, is chief of the Clark County Fire Department.

When she retired, Kathy had served longer with Metro than her father, uncle and brother — 35 years.

The family members have spent their careers trying to make Las Vegans feel safe and secure in today’s uncertain world.

But it’s not always possible, and Kathy is enough of a realist to know it. She spent most of her career with the Metropolitan Police Department as a crime prevention specialist.

She joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 1982, starting as a PBX operator. She wanted to be a dispatcher but failed typing by one word. That tiny failure directed her into a career she has always loved.

Tragedy also nudged her into her career. Three women she knew were the victims of random, violent crimes in separate instances. Two died, the third lived. Each situation was different. None had placed themselves in dangerous situation or engaged in risky behavior.

The crimes against them “shattered everything I thought,” said Kathy, now 56. “It scared me and it made me mad. Beautiful, promising young lives were snuffed out.”

A good match

A new position was being created at the time — a crime prevention specialist, teaching the public how to protect themselves and secure their homes.

For Kathy, it was the right fit.

Yet, she is practical. She can teach personal safety and how to secure your home. She can even teach how to protect yourself from internet fraud and scams.

“But I have no illusions all crime can be prevented.”

The murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, by a single gunman taught her that. The 28 deaths included 20 children, six adults, the shooter’s mother and then himself.

On Oct. 1, the shooting from the Mandalay Bay showed once again that there is no guarantee that crime can be prevented. Like many, Kathy was at home when a shooter killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 others, traumatizing even more of the 22,000 concertgoers.

Suddenly, she received messages that something terrible was happening on the Strip. She messaged her brother Greg and they communicated briefly. “He was all right and he was already there.”

She is proud that the firefighters and the police worked so well together that night and said that her brother had been working on strengthening cooperation between police and firefighters. “It really paid off,” she said. “I’m proud of his huge role.”

On the morning after the shooting, she went to the Northwest Area Command. People were coming in, dropping things off to help. She tried to help someone who wanted to find a police officer who had shielded them, but didn’t have enough information. The steady stream of distraught people who wanted to do something — anything — never slowed, the naturally reassuring woman recalled.

The massacre in Las Vegas would have been unthinkable when Kathy began her career as a civilian for the department.

Most of her time was spent working with community groups and governmental agencies. Las Vegas police have one crime prevention specialist in every command. That person is available to inspect your home, speak to groups and associations and share advice. It may prevent a crime and it’s free. Just call and ask.

At times she was asked to do the impossible such as make a presentation to a women’s church group on personal safety “but don’t scare them and do it in 10 minutes.”

Watch the kids

She shared one suggestion we should all adopt.

A grandmother, she described taking her granddaughter to the park and seeing parents ignoring their children because they were focused on their devices. A child can be snatched in seconds while a parent’s eyes are on a device instead of their child.

It’s not just a TV plot.

“I’ve seen it in restaurants as well. Parents are not watching their kids; they’re watching their devices,” she said. “They’re teaching their children the device is more important than they are.”

On Christmas Eve, or any other time, is your electronic device more important than your family? Is answering a call or text while driving more important than that toddler in the back seat?

Kathy Cassell hopes your answer is no.

Even retired, she’s trying to teach. She may never stop. It’s a family tradition.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Sundays in the Nevada section. Contact her at jane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
News
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like