by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
February 9, 2022
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who gave his last State of the Department address Wednesday with hopes of delivering the State of the State speech next year as Nevada governor, came out swinging against state lawmakers.
Lombardo, running in a crowded Republican primary, called the Legislature “a threat.” He initially endorsed an audience member who suggested legislators “make stupid decisions,” but then backpedaled.
“They make some difficult decisions. They make some flawed decisions. And they also make some good decisions,” he said of lawmakers.
“What is going on the last two sessions is there’s been a general malaise toward crime,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. It’s not just theories. It’s not just thought.”
Lombardo cited laws that reduced some offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, noting increased thresholds for drug trafficking.
“I can go through a list of a hundred,” he said, attributing the changes to lawmakers’ “lack of knowledge with this space and what we do.”
Lombardo called on police unions to speak up for their members.
“We at LVMPD are the only word they (lawmakers) listen to in the law enforcement space,” Lombardo asserted, adding the Las Vegas Police Protective Association and other unions are “very influential up in this building,” referring to the Legislature.
Lombardo lamented what he called a change in the perception of crime, citing public disapproval of “people sitting in jail.”
The Clark County Detention Center population has fallen from 4,200 before the pandemic to 2,800 – partly because of social distancing and other pandemic mitigation measures, and partly because of what Lombardo called public disapproval “of people sitting in jail.”
“People who have nine felonies are out on the street, on their tenth felony,” he said, citing the multiple convictions against the driver in a North Las Vegas high speed accident that killed nine people.
“Three strikes is now seven,” he said. “How ridiculous is that?”
The sheriff praised officers for a 2021 reduction in officer-involved shootings and noted increased de-escalation training. That same year the police union opposed a bill that would have required police to engage in de-escalation tactics.
Lombardo attributed spikes in homicide and property crimes to the pandemic. He chastised the Las Vegas Justice Court for a backlog of 173,000 traffic citations, acknowledging COVID-19 shutdowns are partially to blame.
People have “no fear of retribution or consequences,” he said.
Lombardo outlined other perceived threats to Metro, including a significant drop in recruiting of police and corrections officers.
Recruiting efforts are down 57%, Lombardo said, since Metro’s most robust recruiting year in 2011.
“We have to get people standing in line” to become police and corrections officers, he said, adding community support for the police department has an effect on recruiting.
That support, he says, is working in Metro’s favor.
“They don’t want to work in places like Seattle where there is no support,” he said. “Portland,” he added.
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