All Las Vegas police officers will wear body cams in near future, panel says

It’s only a matter of time before all uniformed Las Vegas police officers are equipped with body-worn cameras.

That was the consensus of police and academic representatives who participated in a panel discussion Saturday at the University of Phoenix campus.

The Metropolitan Police Department requires body cams for all new recruits, who wear slightly more than half of the 500 or so body cams in use in the field today. Department veterans are given the option of wearing one, but Metro’s policies don’t require them across the board.

Las Vegas police Sgt. Peter Ferranti, a supervisor in the department’s video unit, said the Legislature sent a strong message that a statewide mandate may be coming down the road when it passed a law in 2015 requiring Nevada police agencies to start preparing policies for body cams.

And in recent months, Ferranti has seen officers in specialty units volunteering to wear the cameras. Requests came from the SWAT unit in December and from the K-9 unit in February.

“That’s a relatively new thing,” he said.

Daniel Barry, a retired Las Vegas police officer and the chairman of the University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice, compared body-worn cameras to the rise of DNA testing in the 1990s: Both technologies were policing game-changers.

Although the department said its body cam policies were crafted based on national best practices, speakers pointed to a few challenges that will need to be confronted as the technology evolves.

Storage for the videos is demanding and costly: With more than 500 units in use, the department has about 300,000 videos stored on the Internet. Of those, 90,000 are marked for long-term storage. Most videos are automatically deleted after 45 days.

And preparing the footage for release is labor-intensive: Thirteen requests have been made to the department for body cam footage in the past six months. About half of them had to be dismissed because there was no footage for the incidents in question. Others couldn’t be released because of pending criminal cases, and one had been automatically deleted, Ferranti said.

The department released body cam footage in response to a request for the first time Thursday. It took eight hours to redact the footage to make sure that personal details — things like addresses and social security numbers — weren’t released as well.

UNLV criminal justice researcher William Sousa said that there is a difference between transparency and trust. Sousa completed a study of public perceptions about body cams last year and found that the public emphatically supports the adoption of body cams but has mixed feelings about public dissemination and being filmed by the police.

Some of the roughly three dozen attendees at the discussion wondered if having all police interactions filmed framed those interactions from a place of mistrust from the beginning. Others asked about whether it was appropriate for the police to be policing themselves.

“The camera gives us more information, but it doesn’t have all the answers,” Sousa said.

Sousa is also working on a pilot study of the department’s initial rollout of body cams. That study should be completed in the next few months.

Body-worn cameras are a blessing for police officers, Ferranti said. Footage from body cams has been used to exonerate 90 Las Vegas police officers accused of misconduct to date.

The next University of Pheonix criminal justice panel will discuss mental health issues in policing and probably will be held in May, Barry said. The panels are open to the public.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

Hundreds gather to honor gang bangers, I mean Metro officers slain in 2014

Hundreds of people joined officers from law enforcement agencies across Southern Nevada on Thursday night at Police Memorial Park to memorialize those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Las Vegas police added the names of officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo to the Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial, a stone wall engraved with the names of the fallen. The sunset ceremony is an annual event that pays tribute to the local law enforcement officers, numbering 34, who have died since 1905.

A multi-agency honor guard opened the ceremony, with bagpipes and drums playing the traditional, somber tunes often heard at officers’ funerals.

The families of those killed in service to the community walked along a path next to the stone memorial and took a seat, each holding a white rose that would later be placed in a memorial bouquet.

For those who knew Beck and Soldo, the wounds were still fresh.

The officers were gunned down while eating lunch on June 8. Their killers then continued on a violent rampage and took the life of good Samaritan Joseph Wilcox before they died in a standoff with police.

Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill spoke to the crowd about the price of service, of tears and gratitude.

“You can take a life, but you can’t take a legacy,” he said.

Never before had the community seen such a senseless, evil act, he said.

But the ceremony at the park near Cheyenne Avenue and Hualapai Way was not just about the newest additions to the memorial. Cops, FBI agents and corrections officers who lost their lives also were honored.

Like search and rescue officer David Vanbuskirk, who died in a tragic accident after rescuing a stranded hiker on Mount Charleston in July 2013.

“Every time I’m out here, my heart breaks,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, adding that the community needs to make sure that none of the officers died in vain.

“We will not tolerate any more the anger and the hate that’s out there,” she said.

Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, a former cop himself, said it takes courage to do police work, to protect the innocent and face hardened criminals. To say goodbye to your family in the morning knowing that you may not come home at night.

“God knows they chased evil in this world, and they are being rewarded in heaven,” he said.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the families of officers who were killed, whether long ago or recently, that the brotherhood of the police community extends to them as well.

An American flag lowered to half-staff billowed as the Leavitt Middle School choir sang “America the Beautiful.”

The sky grew dark, and youths from Metro’s Explorer program released 34 white balloons with lights inside, representative of the light the officers brought to the community.

They rose high into the sky and looked like flying doves in the distance.

FUCK THE NEVADA POLICE: Arrests disrupt medical pot convention in Las Vegas

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Las Vegas police and federal agents arrested 10 people and seized drugs over the weekend at Hempcon, a marijuana education convention at the Cashman Center.

People who were there described seeing police dogs around the event, as well as officers on the roof of the building, apparently looking for people smoking marijuana.

fuck-the-police_o_168412The arrests outraged event organizers, and some attendees said they left patients frightened as Nevada’s first legal dispensaries prepare to open.

“It’s disheartening for our whole community,” said Jennifer Solis, who’s with Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada, or WECAN, and was at the event.

From Friday to Sunday, officers shut down five booths, arrested 10 people and cited three others on charges including drug possession, possession with intent to sell and transporting a controlled substance, said officer Laura Meltzer, a Metro spokeswoman. She said officers seized marijuana, hashish, marijuana seeds, edible products containing THC and psilocybin mushrooms.

Meltzer said Metro narcotics detectives and Hempcon organizers had spoken before the event, and organizers told attendees they had to follow the law.

Nevada allows medical use of marijuana by patients with state-issued cards. But it’s illegal to sell the drug without a state dispensary license, and it’s illegal for anyone to use it in public.

Asked about the criticism of the arrests, Meltzer said, “It is incumbent upon the people who are attending this and who are conducting this to be aware of Nevada state law.”19760-fuck-the-police_large

Mark Saint, an activist who was at the convention Friday, said the police stance was hypocritical since officers have looked the other way at similar events while people used marijuana.

The arrests were made by a task force called Southern Nevada Cannabis Operation and Regional Enforcement, which includes Metro, Henderson police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA spokeswoman Sarah Pullen said a federal agent is on the task force, but that Las Vegas police led the operation.

Meltzer said the names of those arrested were not available Tuesday. Police made no public announcement about the operation and provided information only in response to questions from the Review-Journal.

Jason Sturtsman, a patient advocate and owner of a medical marijuana growing operation, wondered whether that’s because police know how much public attitudes toward marijuana have shifted.

“It just seems like a waste of resources,” said Sturtsman, who was not at the event but heard about the arrests.

People who were there said police seemed to become more aggressive as the weekend went on.

On Friday, officers arrested some people who were selling marijuana, said Kurt Duchac, a board member of WECAN. Duchac said those arrests were understandable, since it’s illegal to sell without a license.

But on Saturday, he said, officers started arresting patients who were peacefully using marijuana in their cars. And on Sunday, a SWAT vehicle showed up and officers were on the roof of the building.

nevada is a police state“They were targeting patients, people for simply having it on them,” Duchac said. “They were running dogs through there.”

Inside, Duchac said, officers were “trashing” booths and ripping open boxes looking for drugs. People gathered around to watch, with some filming police and yelling at them.

“It was ugly,” Duchac said.

Meltzer said she did not know details of how the operation was conducted and that the task force commander was not available for comment Tuesday.

Hempcon, which holds conventions around the country, is meant to be an educational event where vendors can meet customers and patients can find information. Its website says attendees are not allowed to bring drugs or drug paraphernalia.

Organizers didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. On their Facebook page, they wrote in a post Monday: “We deeply regret the unfortunate police activity during the Las Vegas Hempcon over the weekend of May 15-17. It was a blow to our Vendors, the attendees, the Community as a whole, and to us as well. It is sad that our industry is subject to such indiscriminate and prejudicial behavior by law enforcement, but we as a Community will PERSEVERE and not let our forward momentum be derailed by them.”

Solis, who has organized another marijuana-themed event, said police told her such crackdowns are a backlash to an event last year called Hempfest. After that event, Solis said, police were embarrassed by photos that showed people smoking marijuana while officers simply watched.

“You can thank your buddies at Hempfest for all this backlash,” she recalled one officer saying when she met with police after applying for her event permit.

Sturtsman said police crackdowns could pose challenges, since soon-to-open legal dispensaries are expecting many of their customers to be from out of state. And some of those patients might not realize using a legal drug is outlawed in public places.

“I think it’s going to be a growing problem in Las Vegas when these dispensaries open up … where can these individuals consume cannabis in a safe place?” he said.

Las Vegas ‘sociopath’ cop won’t be fired for online posts about ‘race war’ and shooting Obama – Maybe he should get a raise?

s-POLICE-BRUTALITY-largeA Las Vegas police detective will keep his job despite drawing criticism from colleagues and local activists for his online posts about a “race war” and anti-government rhetoric, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Some of Detective Bobby Kinch’s co-workers reportedly brought the December 2013 Facebook posts to the attention of superiors. Kinch told the Sun that he was the victim of department politics. He was recently allowed to go back on duty following an extended suspension and internal investigation.

“Let’s just get this over!” Kinch wrote in one post. “Race war, Civil, Revolution? Bring it! I’m about as fed up as a man (American, Christian, White, Heterosexual) can get!”
At least one colleague later compared Kinch’s statements to the kind of posts made by Jerad and Amanda Miller before they shot and killed two LVPD officers in June 2014.

“It’s obviously coming to a boiling point! I say ‘F*CK IT’!” Kinch stated in another angry post. “I’m ready now! Sooner or later, I would say sooner than later! Thought I could make a difference, thought it would get better! See the morale fabric of this Country get so trampled I wanna call it! GAME ON! I think we need a cleansing! Just me? What say you?”

Several of Kinch’s fellow detectives expressed concern over the posts at the time, with one asking him not to share his views on “this stupid thing called Facebook.”

“You’ve lost your mind,” Detective Joe Giannone responded. “This may be the dumbest sh*t you’ve ever posted. That’s saying a lot.”

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Former Las Vegas Metro cop James Henry pleads guilty in child porn case

After striking a deal with prosecutors, a former Metro police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors originally charged James Henry, 37, with 10 counts child pornography possession, saying several images were found on an online storage account that belonged to him.

Henry agreed to plead to only one count of possessing a visual presentation depicting sexual conduct of a child.

Prosecutors said the images appeared to have been uploaded by Henry through his home Internet Protocol address or his cell phone.

“After consideration of the evidence we had, the amount of child pornography we discovered, we thought this was a fair negotiation,” prosecutor Jim Sweetin said.

The 12-year department veteran was arrested in October after an investigation into child pornography on his Google cloud account. Henry worked as a patrol officer in Metro’s Convention Center Area Command, which includes the Strip.

Google had notified authorities that someone had uploaded an image of child pornography in June, according to Henry’s arrest report. His account was closed, and the tip was forwarded to Metro in July.

Henry’s lawyers have said the images were never in his possession and that someone could have hacked into his account. They had also argued that there was no evidence Henry prepared, advertised or distributed images.

Henry did not know why Google closed his account, his lawyers have said. Henry learned of the investigation when he was placed on paid administrative leave from Metro.

During an interview with detectives, Henry admitted to uploading the images of boys and girls and called them “captivating and titillating,” a police report said.

Sweetin called those comments “very concerning.”

His lawyers said that those comments were taken out of context and that he had been referring to pornography in general.

In exchange for the plea, the Clark County district attorney’s office agreed not to refer the case to the federal government for prosecution.

Sweetin also said that prosecutors would not pursue further charges “resulting from the evidence currently in the state’s possession.”

Henry, who resigned from the department last month, must surrender all of his computers, electronic devices and cell phones.

Defense lawyer Louis Schneider declined to comment after the plea hearing Wednesday.

Henry, who must register as a sex offender, faces up to 6 years in prison, but he could also be given probation at his sentencing in April. He remains free on $100,000 bail.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

Las Vegas Tribune reporter Natasha Minsky has been warned – the biggest lawsuit of the century is going on at the Las Vegas Federal Courthouse: an active member of the police department, a detective with 38 years of seniority, is suing his boss — Sheriff Doug Gillespie — along with 14 of the highest executives

Douglas Gillespie

Douglas Gillespie

After the August 14 front page article in Las Vegas Tribune, partially titled “Metro… facing ugly humps… cover-ups,” several blocked and unknown telephone calls have been placed to newspaper reporter Natasha Minsky’s private cell phone trying to scare and discourage her from writing articles that may expose the integrity of the present Metro police department’s administration.

After congratulating Minsky for her latest article, one caller, sounding suspiciously like a person in law enforcement,  suggested that the reporter “should go buy a gun” (which gave the impression that the caller assumed the reporter does not have a gun to protect herself.) Another call came from an unknown telephone number, and that one also sounded like it came from a police officer or a family member of someone in law enforcement who may have had the blessings of a higher-up in the department.

The clearest evidence we can show that proves the cowardly behavior of the mainstream media in this town is the cover-up going on right in front of the public. Currently, the biggest lawsuit of the century is going on at the Las Vegas Federal Courthouse: an active member of the police department, a detective with 38 years of seniority, is suing his boss — Sheriff Doug Gillespie — along with 14 of the highest executives in the department’s administration.

They (Metro) have been doing for a long time. Threatening people with their life, is nothing new or invisible what this police force does on a daily basis. Shoot they have been threatening me for the past 17 years, and still will boldly tell you they are above the law and will do as they like. Maybe the paper (Tribune) should have people write in about their Ordeal’s with outlawed (Metro), and other law entities connected and protect Metro. Detective Martines is not the only person who has evidence of how this police are getting away with corruption and the like – Mark hough

The caller made this comment: “Rolando [Larraz, the owner of the newspaper] is bulletproof in this matter; they wouldn’t dare do anything to him, as he has great public exposure.” It is clear that the caller tried to play head games with the
reporter. The caller tried to make her believe that she is being used by the newspaper and further tried to convince her that the newspaper’s publisher may have assigned her to cover news stories that put her life in danger. (What? No one is supposed to be brave enough to “dare” write articles that expose the corruption of the administrative higher-ups in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department?) The call continued: “You [the reporter], on the other hand, have painted a target on your back. You’re an excellent writer and your [news] sources are good, but you are still a contributor and don’t have the public exposure that Rolando [Tribune publisher] does.”
A man on the extension line was heard saying more things to the Las Vegas Tribune’s investigative reporter in an attempt to turn her against the very people that gave her the opportunity to expand and create a name for herself in her chosen career of journalism. Las Vegas Tribune is, so far, the only Clark County newspaper that is brave enough to expose — without compromising — the corruption that exists in the mob-style rule of the Metro police department’s administration. The clearest evidence we can show that proves the cowardly behavior of the mainstream media in this town is the cover-up going on right in front of the public. Currently, the biggest lawsuit of the century is going on at the Las Vegas Federal Courthouse: an active member of the police department, a detective with 38 years of seniority, is suing his boss — Sheriff Doug Gillespie — along with 14 of the highest executives in the department’s administration.

So why is the daily newspaper, which has more reporters in the courthouse than in the newsroom, covering up this huge case and not writing about it?
As astonishing as it sounds (and it proves this newspaper got it right one more time), another next telephone warning came with a very familiar voice, and it was very similar to the voice on previous calls. “My working relationship with LVPD is now tenuous at best.

We still communicate, but only at the very basic levels,” the caller stated, proving that the person or persons calling Las Vegas Tribune’s investigative reporter are, at the very least, connected to Metro. Another very noticeable sign that the callers are somehow connected to the police is that this newspaper and its publisher have been writing uncompromising articles exposing problems for a long time, and no one ever has been this outspoken about it. But now that a female reporter
is on the story, they call, trying to intimidate the young woman.
It is the typical male police behavior; they are not as fast to make a bold move when other men are involved, yet they become aggressive when a woman is the target.

Far too often, the public hears problems of male police officers who show their macho tendencies to abuse or hate women. Maybe it’s because some of their women betrayed them and cheated on them because of women’s frequent complaints that cops are so “involved in their job” that they don’t have time to pay enough attention to their home life or relationships. An example from reports filed earlier showed that a now-retired police sergeant, Mike Bunker, a 7-foot-tall and 300-pound cop, beat up a diminutive 5-foot-tall, 95-pound woman after he learned that his woman had cheated on him with a fellow church members and police officers co-workers. The recent telephone warning calls to reporter Minsky have prompted several changes in staffing at the newsroom. While some rumors, unconfirmed at this time, place Larraz back in the newsroom mainly to cover the courts, and city and county meetings; Minsky may shift to editorials. Calls made to Minsky were not returned by newspaper press time on Tuesday night. Larraz is away from the office this week but has been seen in the County Commissioners Chamber.

source: http://lasvegastribune.net/tribune-reporter-warned/