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EDITORIAL: Political parochialism? In Henderson, of course

Henderson is Nevada’s second-largest city. It’s long past time for those who run the place to start acting like it.

The Review-Journal’s Briana Erickson this week revealed that the city’s police chief, Hollie Chadwick, stepped in to protect three officers who faced termination for covering up a crime and falsifying an investigative report. The previous police chief had recommended the officers be fired, but Ms. Chadwick issued minor discipline and reinstated them after they were on paid leave that cost taxpayers nearly $400,000.

The incident stemmed from a suspected DUI in 2021 involving one of the officers.

Police officers are human and make mistakes. But they are also entrusted with great powers to help keep the peace. Officers who compromise the integrity of their profession by engaging in lies and deception are unfit to serve the public. This should go without saying.

Yet during a Henderson City Council meeting on Tuesday, members of the city’s political set downplayed the revelations and ran interference for the department.

“I want to commend Chief Chadwick for the work that she’s done over the past year to resolve the outstanding issues and make some significant changes in the department,” gushed Mayor Michelle Romero. “I know that she cares deeply about the members and their reputation, and I fully support her and the members of this police department.”

City Manager Richard Derrick picked up the theme. “Keep building on the positive momentum,” he told Ms. Chadwick, “and know that your exceptional work is appreciated.”

In most jurisdictions, word that officers accused of betraying their badges faced only minimal consequences might trigger a full-blown examination of department procedures and practices. But in the insular world of Henderson politics, such news brings only more whitewashing from city leaders, who are blithely unconcerned that members of law enforcement who conducted themselves in a manner unbecoming their profession remain on the police force.

Henderson officials have a lengthy record of preferring the shadows when it comes to open meeting and records laws. The police department has also been the focus of numerous controversies in recent years. It is ultimately up to the voters to hold the city’s elected officials responsible for creating and tolerating a climate in which transparency is seen as an inconvenient danger to the ruling class.

Until they do, expect those in charge to continue to act like they’re running some parochial backwater rather than a major Nevada city of nearly 350,000 people.

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