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LETTER: Metro and the Citizen Review Board

In response to your March 18 story, “Las Vegas police rarely held accountable for misconduct by board”: The suggestion that the Citizens Review Board is simply parroting Metro Internal Affairs conclusions is completely different from my four-plus years of experience serving on the panel. Rather than Mr. Kane carefully contrasting the board with deficiencies found in other states, he seems to intentionally confuse the reader into thinking what is happening in New York or Minneapolis is happening here.

Notably missing is that body-worn camera usage is now near-universal in the Metropolitan Police Department (an issue the review board worked on vigorously in 2018). In years past, board members could rely only on reports from Internal Affairs and the complainant. Now, in most instances, they can view the entire unredacted interaction before making a decision.

Furthermore, no discussion of the board’s efficacy is possible without distinguishing between the Detention Center’s complaints versus those from the general public.

I have sat on numerous hearing panels, and to suggest the interaction between subpoenaed officers and interviewing board members is “chummy” is not accurate. I reject the notion that “making noise” or being overly adversarial or — worst of all — handing local oversight over to unelected bureaucrats in Carson City is the only means of oversight. The public should know we have a board that ensures legitimate concerns and suggestions get the attention and action they deserve by Metro and the sheriff.

The board has had a tumultuous time in recent years — our previous director’s passing, the shutdown, delayed appointments and the resultant backlog of cases. However, we now have a new director and a swath of newly appointed energetic and committed board members ready to move forward.

Las Vegas should be proud of having one of the most transparent and professional police forces in the country. We are a model for community review of police that is unparalleled in any major police department. This article should have done a better job to reflect that.

— The writer is a member of the Citizen Review Board.

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