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October 31, 2014

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ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

Power couple ask constituents to drop in, say hi

Kathleen Boutin

Kathleen Boutin

Steve Sisolak

Steve Sisolak

For those who don’t pay attention to local politics — and let’s face it, many people don’t until their favorite nightclub’s license is taken away or they learn that feeding feral cats is a no-no — an interesting juxtaposition of political life and love interests has emerged on the small stage of Clark County politics.

That relationship will be center stage, so to speak, during a meet and greet Monday night in the Coronado High School Theater in Henderson.

Is a meet and greet some kind of fast-dating service?

No, it’s something akin to a town-hall meeting. In this case, it’s going to be a meeting held by Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and his girlfriend, Henderson City Councilwoman Kathleen Boutin. The 6-8 p.m. meeting has no specific agenda. The power couple simply want to give residents the chance “to interact with their representatives and discuss issues they are concerned about.”

Are questions about their relationship fair game?

Some talk in the county building has emerged about Boutin wanting to appoint Sisolak to a board overseeing the planned Henderson Space and Science Museum. With a potential cost of $60 million, the museum is no small-fry endeavor. Sisolak said Boutin didn’t ask him to sit on the board — Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen did. And, in any case, Sisolak said, he’s not going to do it because he doesn’t think he’ll have time. Boutin isn’t on the board, either.

•••

Putting an exclamation point on the county’s admitted shortage of park police, the County Commission will honor 10 officers in the agency for recent work on two drug-related arrests and the capture of a homicide suspect from Los Angeles.

What’s so great about that? Aren’t commissioner commendations akin to and worth as much as the scroll the wizard gave to the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz? I believe that was a diploma, to certify that the scarecrow had a brain.

Though it’s true some politicians are known to hand out proclamations with a frequency that rivals only requests for campaign donations, in this case the parchment seems a little more deserved. The county’s park system includes more than 100 locations spread out over an area about the size of New Jersey. But New Jersey has 91 park police; Clark County has 18. So doing the job here is no small feat.

The drug bust for which the park police are being recognized made national news because it occurred during a men’s softball tournament that was part of the 2009 Nevada Police and Fire Games. The games involved 2,000 police officers and firefighters from across the country.

Instead of playing softball, the park police were working and noticed a van parked slightly askew. Getting closer, they smelled marijuana. Two of the three men inside the van fled but were soon captured. Two of them turned out to be Honolulu police officers.

But dope smoking isn’t such a big deal, is it? Might as well arrest someone for jaywalking.

That’s a matter of perspective. And these were off-duty cops, not exactly cupcakes. It took a Taser to get one of the arrestees arrested. Commissioner Tom Collins, who is behind the commendations, said although it was just one relatively minor pot bust, “the drug dealing that goes on in our parks is horrendous and we don’t have enough people to take care of it.

“We’re undermanned and under-tooled, and this proclamation is long overdue,” he added. “This is giving notice to our public and our commission that these guys are dealing with felons and serious criminals.”

What about the homicide suspect?

Commander Michael Roy called it another example of alert policing. At Paradise Park on Sept. 1, one of Roy’s officers noticed two men who “appeared very nervous” as the officer approached. They were detained for illegal drinking, and when their records were checked, one of them came up as being on the run from LAPD since 2006.

But I thought that county park police were so underfunded that they can’t run someone’s name for criminal records?

Unlike most metropolitan area police departments, they can’t run the records on their own in-vehicle laptop computers. They have a computer to enter info and data, but have to radio Metro’s dispatchers and ask them run the names. Sometimes, if the dispatchers are busy, getting the answers is delayed because other emergencies are a higher priority for Metro.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected. In an earlier version, a different time was given for the meeting help by Sisolak and Boutin. | (February 7, 2012)

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