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Judge dismisses police union’s lawsuit against oversight board

A judge has dismissed a Las Vegas police union’s lawsuit against a citizen oversight board.

District Judge Jacqueline Bluth on Thursday granted Clark County’s motion to dismiss the complaint, which sought to remove officers’ names and badge numbers from public documents.

The county had asked for the suit to be thrown out under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, which refers to “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

Bluth found that the county had met four categories to show the lawsuit was based on a protected communication.

“I don’t think anyone can say that this isn’t a matter of public concern or public interest in this day and age,” Bluth said during the hearing.

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association in November filed the lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department citizen review board, Clark County, the city of Las Vegas and the Metropolitan Police Department.

The review board is made up of 25 volunteers who review complaints made against the Metropolitan Police Department. It reviews internal investigations and officer discipline. The board’s findings are public record and include an officer’s first initial, last name and badge number.

Officers Jeremy Jacobitz, William Catricula, Matthew Glover, Justin Turney, Raymond Kwan, Aristotle Legaspi and Edwardo Garcia were named as plaintiffs.

Attorney David Roger said Friday the union plans to appeal Bluth’s ruling, referencing a decision handed down in 2020 from the high court in a separate lawsuit between Metro and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“The Nevada Supreme Court stated, in LVMPD v. LVRJ, ‘officers did not surrender their privacy interests by swearing an oath of public office.’ Every Nevada employee, whether public or private, has a right to privacy in their personnel records- police officers are no different,” Roger wrote in an email.

Bluth cited the same decision in her finding that the police union would not be successful in prevailing on the merits of its claim. She said the supreme court had already ruled that names and badge numbers did not rise to the same privacy concern for officers as the release of their photos or home addresses.

“I think that the current law quite honestly is not in favor of plaintiff’s position,” Bluth said.

Bluth said when she reviewed all applicable state law, collective bargaining agreements and operating agreements nowhere mentioned that officers’ names and badge numbers could not be made public.

Bluth heard arguments on the county’s motion in December but held off on making a ruling until last week’s hearing.

An attorney representing Clark County and the review board declined to comment.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com.

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