Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2019

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State of the Department:

Metro still focused on violent crime despite rate drop

2019 State Of The Department

Steve Marcus

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo delivers the State of the Department address at the Smith Center Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

2019 State of the Department

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo talks about a reduction in violent crime as he delivers the State of the Department address at the Smith Center Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Although overall violent crime dipped last year, Metro Police is not curbing efforts to combat it, according to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

Clark County’s top cop outlined the agency’s priorities Wednesday in his State of the Department speech.

Just like previous years, addressing violent crime again is at the forefront of those priorities, Lombardo told several dozen Metro personnel, ranging from volunteers to top brass, at the Cabaret Jazz room in the Smith Center.

Although 20 fewer people were slain in Metro’s jurisdiction in 2018 from 2017, about 350 more sexual assaults were reported, according to statistics he presented.

But the drop in slayings, as well as robberies, shootings and stabbings, brought the total number of violent incidents down by about 900, or 9.2 percent.

It is a “huge number,” Lombardo told his staff.

The 58 victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting were not included in that year’s numbers.

In an interview after the speech, Lombardo commented on the FBI’s recent behavior analysis report that couldn’t pinpoint a precise motive for the massacre, noting that he wasn’t surprised with the findings.

“I think there’s a sense of closure for the community with the FBI summation of their report,” he said. “It’s unfortunate more answers didn’t come forward, but that’s what we we’re dealing with.”

Among its findings, the report, which was released last week, determined that the deterioration of the gunman’s physical and mental health, as well as a sense of “infamy,” may have contributed.

Lombardo touted the leadership at Metro’s homicide and gang units.

The homicide bureau has an 84 percent solving rate, which is about 20 percent higher than the national average, Lombardo said. “There is not an organization with a higher percentage solve rate.”

After 10 slayings were attributed to the MS-13 transnational gang, Lombardo praised the gang unit’s investigation, which led to several arrests, and its “vision.”

Officers

More cops make a difference, Lombardo maintained. So since he took office, his administration has filled more than 600 new positions, meeting his goal that there are about two cops for every 1,000 residents — the highest number since 2010.

This year, up to 225 additional hires will be made, Lombardo said. Facing an increasing population, Metro is in talks with Clark County and Las Vegas officials about funding for 84 additional positions, Lombardo said.

Facilities

Metro and its fundraising arm aim to raise $20 million in private funds for a reality-based training facility, Lombardo said. They’ve raised about $5 million, and when they raise about two more, the first of three phases may begin.

It would be a multi-agency hub to prepare for “low frequency, high-risk events,” such as possible active-shooter scenarios, Lombardo said. “(We’ll) hopefully start to see dirt move in 2019.”

On a west valley plot of land, dirt has begun to move as crews are preparing to build Metro’s Summerlin Area Command substation, Lombardo said, showing an aerial photograph of the site near the 215 Beltway and Far Hills Avenue.

He said he hoped officers and personnel could begin to stream in December.

A training facility for SWAT officers — a previously proposed partnership with MGM Resorts International — is “off the table,” Lombardo said, noting that the proposed building was being repurposed for other uses.

But Metro is working with the megaresort company to install a kiosk-type cop station — like ones seen in Times Square or Singapore — between Bellagio and Cosmopolitan, and also a space at CityCenter that would serve as a “mini substation” for bicycle officers, Lombardo said.

Technology

Metro has implemented a drone project for traffic, crime scene and SWAT investigations and special events, which are piloted by 11 staff members, Lombardo said, adding that there is a “big push” for other technology uses and data to combat crime.

“I think the State of the Department is very important for our employees to understand what direction we’re going as an agency, what I expect from them as their sheriff, where we’ve been, and where we’re going,” Lombardo said after his speech.