Perkins to retire as police chief

Henderson Police Chief Richard Perkins announced his retirement late Wednesday.

His probable successor is Henderson Police Deputy Chief Jutta Chambers. Law enforcement sources said she would be among the small group of women who have led local police agencies in Nevada.

Perkins, 46, a lifelong Henderson resident, is leaving the department after nearly 25 years to pursue a career in the private sector. He has held the appointed post since July 2006. His retirement is effective Sept. 5.

“This truly has been my dream job, being the person most responsible for public safety in the city I love and grew up in,” Perkins said. “It was time for me to seek the next challenge in my life. I will look to the private sector. I’ve had a number of conversations with folks, but nothing I’ve landed on yet.”

Henderson City Manager Mary Kay Peck will choose Perkins’ successor.

“I think the city manager has strong options when I leave,” Perkins said. “Clearly, Jutta Chambers is a very talented manager who could fill that role.”

Chambers could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. Her city biography said she was hired by Henderson police in 1983 after she completed a four-year tour at Nellis Air Force Base.

Chambers rose through department ranks, serving as a patrol officer, sergeant and lieutenant. She is deputy chief of the department’s Support Command.

Perkins said his biggest challenge as police chief has been dealing with growth. When he began as an officer, the department had 31 officers. The department now has about 391 officers and operates with a budget of about $70 million, Perkins said.

Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Doug Gillespie said he and Perkins have had a close working relationship. Gillespie reached out to Perkins before running for sheriff because of his political experience. Perkins, a former Assembly speaker, left the Legislature in 2006 after 14 years in office.

Gillespie said they touch base often on how to handle valley crime.

“Their jurisdiction is right in the middle of ours,” Gillespie said. “Criminals don’t know the boundaries of what’s Henderson jurisdiction and what’s Las Vegas Metro’s.”

Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said that although Perkins deserves to be commended for his years of service, he sometimes did not listen to his critics.

“I was disappointed our chief sometimes personalized things and turned a deaf ear to constructive criticism,” Peck said. “But I never questioned his motives or integrity.”

One example Peck gave of Perkins not heeding critics was the death of ice cream truck driver Deshira Selimaj, who was shot by 23-year-old Henderson officer Luke Morrison on Feb. 12.

The coroner’s inquest determined Morrison was justified in the shooting. Police said Selimaj held a knife to her children and then lunged at an officer with the knife.

Peck said the inquest was skewed and left many questions unanswered, including whether the 42-year-old Albanian immigrant could have been subdued in a nonlethal way instead of being shot in front of her husband and two young children.

Perkins had said since the shooting that the officer’s action was justified.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Review-Journal reporter Molly Ball contributed to this report

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