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July 5, 2015

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After slayings, Metro shifts resources to Strip

Metro calls recent deaths in resort corridor an ‘anomaly’

Image

Sam Morris

Tourists walk along the Las Vegas Strip in this April 28, 2011, file photo.

  2010 YTD 2011 YTD % change
Sexual assault 111 106 -4.5%
Robbery 164 120 -26.38%
Assault (gun) 15 8 -46.67%
Total violent crime 291 236 -18.9%
Source: Metro Police. Numbers are from Metro's Convention Center Area Command, which includes the Strip
Click to enlarge photo

Capt. Todd Fasulo of Metro's convention center area command on Wednesday discusses safety on the Las Vegas Strip in the wake of three recent deaths.

Metro Police called three recent slayings on the Strip “somewhat of an anomaly,” but are shifting resources to boost patrols in potentially volatile spots on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Those spots are often where there’s more pedestrian traffic in tight areas, which can lead to confrontations, said Capt. Todd Fasulo of Metro’s Convention Center area command.

“When you have the influx of alcohol, we have confrontations when you have close proximity with that many people,” he said. “That is a concern to the police department.”

The first recent slaying occurred June 25 when Andres Armando Elena, 21, of Las Vegas, died from a stab wound to the chest during a fight on the pedestrian walkway between New York-New York and the MGM Grand.

A second stabbing occurred Monday outside the Cosmopolitan, which left Javier Medrano-Padilla dead. Early Wednesday, Utah resident John Massie died from a punch suffered during an argument inside O’Sheas.

Police have made arrests in each case.

“We have a safe environment on the Strip,” Fasulo said. “There was no correlation to any violent organization working on the Strip. Each one was a separate act.”

Police said violent crime on the Strip has declined over the past three years.

Even so, Fasulo said police began discussions this week about how to better patrol the tourist-heavy area, both with uniform and covert officers. He declined to provide specific changes, but noted special emphasis will be placed on areas congested with pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

“We’re always looking to be a little more creative with the way we deploy (officers) and where we deploy them,” Fasulo said.

Tourists and locals enjoying the Strip will notice the presence of a new mobile command center — a large vehicle that looks similar to an RV — patrolling Las Vegas Boulevard. The vehicle made its debut last weekend, police said.

“It gives us some better eyes up and down the Strip,” Fasulo said.

Police emphasized these existing strategies to keep the Strip safe, which will continue:

• Safe Strip: A program that combines all resources within the department to provide a presence of both uniform and undercover officers.

• Surges: Additional police presence pulled from other areas for short periods of time to address spots potentially prone to violence.

• Homeland Saturation Team: Two police squads with a highly visible presence on Las Vegas Boulevard with a focus on homeland security, gang enforcement, security near casinos and communication with resort officials.

Fasulo said the department’s arguably most important strategy, however, is its relationship with resort security officials.

“We can’t be everywhere,” he said. “They know that and we know that. They become a force multiplier for us.”

The Las Vegas Security Chiefs Association meets every month to discuss ongoing issues, and Metro hosts bimonthly meetings with security chiefs for the same purpose, Fasulo said.

“The efforts that the agency is taking and we are making at Convention Center area command are making a difference on Las Vegas Boulevard, but we aren’t completely satisfied with that,” he said. “We continue to strive to reduce (crime) even more than it already is because we recognize just how important the Strip corridor is to not only our economy, but the community.”

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