Too many forces cost too much, protect too little

To the editor:

In his Wednesday letter to the editor, Chas Musser of Boulder City suggested that the Clark County School Police be incorporated into the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. As a Las Vegas police officer, I couldn’t agree more. During a typical week, I and nine other officers are taken from areas such as the Strip and high-crime neighborhoods and sent to high schools and middle schools and told to perform the function of school police.

This in and of itself is not a problem, except for the fact that two school police officers are assigned to each high school and are never seen patrolling their assigned campus. This is a major waste of taxpayer dollars. Clark County citizens are being charged twice for the same services at the expense of neighborhoods desperately in need of police protection.

The nine officers are specific to my area command and do not account for the Las Vegas officers patrolling schools countywide. These officers are assigned by the sheriff because he sees the need to keep our schools and community safe.

I find this to be very troubling with looming budget cuts and the threat of repealing at least part of a cost-of-living salary increase for teachers. School police answer to the school administration and therefore rarely report crimes in the schools committed by district employees; this would not be the case if Las Vegas police were to take over the school policing functions. By removing the administrative positions that exist within the school police organization, the school district’s budget woes would be greatly reduced.

This makes sense, and the Clark County Commission and the Clark County School Board owe it to the taxpayers to conduct a feasibility study to determine how much would be saved. This is only a start, but we owe it to teachers and students to keep them safe and spend valuable education dollars in the most cost effective way.

This does not represent the opinion of the sheriff or the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

JOHN W. SCHUTT JR.

LAS VEGAS

THE WRITER IS A CANDIDATE FOR THE CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT E.

We need an auxiliary

To the editor:

Chas Musser’s Wednesday letter to the editor is right on as far as it goes. What we really do not need is another bureaucracy or two. When all policing activities required by the valley’s citizens are under the control of one elected official — in our case the sheriff — the people are more or less in control. If we do not like the way the sheriff does things, we can elect a new one.

The Nevada Revised Statutes give the sheriff the authority to establish Title II officers to fill any need the citizens may have for protection. Clark County commissioners, however, must not see it that way. At a recent meeting with park officials and park police, I found out that the county commissioners set up their own police force — answerable to them — via Title 19 in the county code. It was stressed that funds must be found to allow the park police to expand to offer adequate protection to all of the parks in the area.

Will it never end? All government entities are already looking in the furniture for spare change, and all of the little bureaucracies under their wings are peeping for more, much more. Those little peepers are already getting paid more than the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Changes must be made. If we continue to expand departments and hire more government employees, we will be in more trouble than we are now.

Here is my solution: As Mr. Musser suggested, consolidate all agencies under the sheriff. Absorb the already-hired park and school police. Utilize the sheriff’s option to expand the existing police auxiliary. Staff this auxiliary with volunteers and pay them, say, $10 an hour only when they work. No benefits. Have them patrol schools, parks, parades or wherever and whenever required. They would carry no guns and have no arrest powers, but would have a direct communications link to Las Vegas police.

Metro has been superb in this respect, answering most emergency calls in five minutes or less. Train these auxiliary members with active or retired law enforcement volunteers. If a foreseeable need is 100 members, then recruit 1,000 to be sure there are always members to draw from. I am sure that Las Vegas police could find many ways to use these auxiliary members to allow sworn officers to man the front lines. It would allow individual citizens to have a little more income, and they could schedule themselves to work around other obligations.

It would give the county the ability to cover needs without greatly expanding debt and allow existing officers to expect their retirement benefits will still be there. We all know that we cannot continue along the path we are now traveling, or we will go bankrupt. Concessions must be made all around, and police unions must see the value of keeping what they have over the alternative.

JERRY ERNST

LAS VEGAS

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