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Shedding light on local police shootings

To the editor:

In response to last week’s five-part investigative series, "Deadly Force":

When I completed my law enforcement academy in the late ’90s, there was a case taught to us related to these Metro shootings which appears to have not gotten to Nevada. It was Garner v. Tennessee.

Essentially, it would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a peace officer to shoot and kill a fleeing citizen if that person presented no immediate danger to the officer or public.

The latest Metro shooting involved a citizen police said was acting suspiciously before he fled — not a felony in any state I know of. Only after he was dead did they find a weapon and learn of his criminal history.

Is there a problem in Clark County with police shootings? These "justified" killings seem to say yes. Also, the recent homeowners association scandal including former police officers, judges and lawyers would say yes. The Metro officers lying about their location while on a joy ride in Arizona and still being on the job would indicate yes.

Can you think of any others?

Warren Pawliuk


To the editor:

Before we get into sensationalism about officer-involved shootings, a lot of objective questions need to be asked.

Years back, a colleague and I were asked to look at the selection process for city of North Las Vegas dispatchers because of a high dropout rate. After tweaking the selection process and the training, the dropout rate decreased. So let’s ask some questions. Is the officer-involved fatal shooting rate for Las Vegas out of proportion to the size of the police force, the size of the city population or the number of reported crimes for cities this size?

If the answer to that question is yes, then we need to ask if the psychological profile of officers involved in fatal shootings is different in some way from that of other officers. If that is true, we need to ask if the screening process is actually effective or if it needs to be changed. We can also ask if we need to adjust the training protocol for the use of deadly force.

Ron Shaver
Las Vegas


To the editor:

I am spellbound by Lawrence Mower’s report, "Deadly Force." Having just read Part III, I am intrigued by the depth of his research; his searching out of fact and separating it from fiction; the listing of what is and what is not; and his looking at the problem from all angles.

Actually, that isn’t what he has done. So far, his piece is a hit job on Metro. His reporting is filled with diluted facts, reports from victims’ families and wild assertions of what the officers could have or should have done from the advantage of after-the-fact review.

Not really fair to the officers involved.

If you look into each and every one of these events, one thing is crystal clear: The suspects did not follow the commands of the officers.

There is little chance that I will be shot by a police officer. Why can I be so sure? Well, I am not a druggie, nor do I assault people, steal or break the law in any way.

But mainly, because if and when I am stopped by a Metro officer, I will do exactly what he says.

B. Wilderman
Las Vegas


To the editor:

Just wanted to say a hearty thank you for your series of articles shedding some light on the Las Vegas police shootings and for publishing the statistics that go with them.

It is a shame that the police rank and file do not share your concern for this subject and that their commanders only pay lip service to it.

Jack Corrick
Boulder City


To the editor:

The Review-Journal is to be commended for its "Deadly Force" series on the Metropolitan Police Department. It presented the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mainly, the article dealt with the past. And since Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s election, great, positive strides have been made to limit deadly force. In fact, our police recently received a national, prestigious award for community policing ("Department receives award for community policing," Oct. 21 Review-Journal.) In particular, since 2006, Metro has reduced violence and gun crimes in West Las Vegas.

Metro has a Safe Village partnership with the community, religious groups and governments. Herein, we see the success in fighting and reducing crime when our police and community work together. Metro is one of only three police departments in the country to receive this award. Our brave and courageous police officers daily risk their lives for us, our families and property. And their partnership with our communities is creating a better quality of life for us all.

I salute our Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Clyde Dinkins
Las Vegas


To the editor:

Congratulations to the Review-Journal for the excellent reports on the use of deadly force by Las Vegas area police officers. This is something I have wondered about since moving here nine years ago.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that officer-involved shootings occurred regularly enough to be unusual. But my first concerns have always been for the police in such situations.

Prompted by the 2008 Deshira Selimaj shooting, I tried doing some amateur research simply to find out how many incidents had occurred in the past few years in Southern Nevada. It soon became apparent how difficult it would be to gather information from the public sector. I would need help.

It came in this series.

I can imagine how much work was put in by the reporters, Lawrence Mower, Alan Maimon and Brian Haynes, and those who supported their efforts. Furthermore, they have obviously worked just as hard to present a balanced case.

Overall, the police do a wonderful job while operating under some highly stressful conditions. However, I am left with the clear impression that the Southern Nevada police departments, at best, have a lot of work to do in order to better equip their officers to prevent or control confrontations before they reach the point that quick decisions about deadly force are deemed necessary.

I can only hope that the leadership is there to make those changes.

John Burt


To the editor:

It has been a long time since I have read anything in any newspaper worthy of the title "investigative journalism," but your recent five-part story on the use of deadly force by local police certainly qualifies.

I thought it was a well-presented series of articles showing both sides of the issues. I know this was an expensive undertaking, and I thank you for your effort.

Now let’s hope we see some change in the management attitude of our police departments as a result.

Michael Kaye
Las Vegas

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