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October 1, 2014

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Six Questions for:

Thomas Finn, Police Chief of Boulder City

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SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN

Being police chief in a small town such as Boulder City presents its own brand of challenges, as Thomas Finn has discovered in his three years on the job.

When Thomas Finn became the Boulder City police chief three years ago, he learned quickly that residents demand attention, and aren’t bashful about knocking on the front door of his house to complain about traffic issues.

Quaint. Then last month Charles Richard Rogers, a middle schoolteacher and a popular youth soccer coach, was arrested on child pornography charges. Boulder City was rocked to its core.

Did the case surprise you?

I’m not shocked at what he did, having been in law enforcement for 29 years. But it’s shocking a predator like him could be here. How could he get away with this for so long? But he influenced those kids. For whatever reason they wouldn’t say anything.

Henderson had four detectives help with evidence collection. Could Boulder City have handled the case on its own?

It would have taken all six detectives. Henderson helped with the forensics and gathering evidence. Being a small town, we can’t send people to school to learn how to do that.

You worked at the East Brunswick, N.J., Department of Public Safety for 26 years. How does working in Boulder City compare with that?

The residents here demand more. They think nothing about calling the chief.

But they should expect more. We’ve been the safest city in Nevada for two years in a row.

I did tell the person who came to my house that we could talk about the traffic in my office. But I like that I can walk into a restaurant and know half the people in there.

What is the top complaint from residents?

Neighborhood traffic. I always say I’ll set up radar. But the people we cite are you and your neighbors. We can’t target people from out of town.

What do you think of promoting officers from within a department versus searching for high-ranking officers?

In New Jersey I had to suspend a friend who committed an act of misconduct. I lost a friendship.

A lot of ways it’s good not to have history. When I came, one officer said they were glad to have me because I didn’t know them.

What will be the effect of the Hoover Dam bypass opening?

It is going to be everything expected. We’re going to have our hands full. One crash could tie up our whole department.

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