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November 20, 2014

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Sheriff laments estimated $45 million shortfall in Metro’s 2013 budget

Continuing cuts should concern community, he warns

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Leila Navidi

Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie speaks during an editorial board meeting with Las Vegas Sun staff inside his office in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2012.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s face was grim as he described the largest budget shortfall yet facing Metro Police: an estimated $46.5 million deficit for 2013.

“There’s no way to put it other than that’s the way it is,” Gillespie told reporters Thursday.

Gillespie estimates the department’s revenue in 2013 around $456 million with expenses around $502 million.

The numbers don’t come as a surprise to Gillespie. Clark County and the city of Las Vegas have been lowering their contributions every year to the joint police force.

The city and county share responsibility for the bulk of Metro’s budget, which is approximately half a billion dollars annually. The city each year has to come up with 40 percent of Metro’s budget that isn’t covered by self-generated revenues. The county comes up with the other 60 percent.

“Should the community be concerned,” Gillespie said in a Metro video. “Yes. They should be concerned.”

Despite the department’s appeals, Gillespie noted Thursday that the Legislature still had not authorized a quarter cent of the half-cent sales tax increase Clark County voters approved in the 2004 More Cops advisory referendum.

As enacted, the half-cent increase was intended to put a total of 1,200 more Metro Police officers on the street, as well as smaller numbers of additional police for other Clark County jurisdictions. After the vote, the Legislature agreed to allow a quarter-cent increase and told Metro it would have to come back in the future to request the other quarter cent.

On top of budget woes, Gillespie said the department also had been called on to provide security every time the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns come to the Las Vegas Valley. Metro, however, does not get reimbursed for the services it provides, he said.

Already budget cuts have led to the suspension of two Metro police academies and the student antidrug program, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).

Gillespie said that while he believed none of the programs wasted taxpayer dollars, the department’s main focus was on getting officers on the street where they are needed.

In past years, any looming budget deficit was offset by money put aside during better times. At the end of fiscal 2008 Metro had $137 million in the bank; now less than $10 million remains in the department’s reserve fund, Gillespie said.

“I’m not saying it’s the end of the world,” Gillespie said of the expected shortfall, adding that the department has cut operational costs in each of the past five years.

Additionally, in June Gillespie instituted a hiring freeze. In doing so, he said he would not balance Metro’s budget on the backs of its officers via layoffs.

Currently, Metro has 117 vacant positions to serve as a buffer against layoffs, he said. Another 70 to 80 officers also leave the department every year.

The department has 238 fewer officers today than in its peak, with 1.83 cops per 1,000 residents, Gillespie said, adding he could not think of lower ratio in another major U.S. metropolitan area with the exception of San Diego. The statistic, he noted, doesn’t factor in tourists who stay in Las Vegas’ 153,000 hotel rooms.

Deputy Chief Kevin McMahill said in a Metro video he’s worried about the demands placed on remaining officers and the community.

“Will it be less safe? That’s a tough thing for me to sit and say to you,” McMahill said. “The truth is probably. But I have the responsibility as chief of patrol here to work very hard to work these officers as hard as we can to keep this city safe.”

Despite the budget woes, the department continues to meet demands placed on it when major events come to town, Gillespie said. In June, Metro was able to keep crowd control at the Electric Daisy Carnival and maintained order after a controversial decision in the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Gillespie said his department would be more aggressive in its use of social media to deliver its message. The department has been using Twitter to post safety tips and put up a variety of videos on its YouTube channel.

Gillespie estimates the Metro Police budget for 2013 will be $525 million.

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  1. @TomD...You are incorrect in your belief that those who are critical of law enforcement are so because of "run ins" with the cops. Some of us actually care about our fellow citizens and don't like to see police play judge, jury and executioner.

    It is because of people like you and your blind allegiance to authority that encourage police to abuse their power. Metro has a proven record of not holding it's officers accountable for their actions. A badge should not grant extra rights.

  2. Sheriff Gillespie complains about a budget short fall, but what he fails to tell the public is how he got there.

    Let's see the Taj Mahal is the new LVMPD Headquarters on Martin Luther King Blvd. and Alta is at a whopping One Million Dollars per Month that's $12,000,000 per year in RENT.

    Let's us take a look at more wasteful spending it's call Administrative Leave for officers that are under investigation from on the job shootings to their personal activities that lead to their arrest. Some Police Officers have been on this vacation on tax payer's dime for over a year with other officers working overtime to pick up the slack. There should be a cap on how long officers should be on paid administrative leave.

    How about their Fiscal Affairs Committee that pays out on the average of $5 - $6 million dollars every year from wrongful death, false police reports, excessive force, from our own citizens and their own officers filing discrimination law suits.

    Maybe the Sheriff needs to fire their bad officers before they cost tax payers millions of dollars in law suits. The Sheriff needs to have a firm hand with the Police Protective Association instead of the Police Protective Association having a firm hand with the Sheriff and the LVMPD.

  3. *cough* legalize it and pay for the shortfall *cough*

  4. @TomD1228...pulls out tired nonsense like "Obey the laws of the land and you'll likely never encounter a cop."

    Really?

    Tell that to Mitchel Crooks (http://wp.me/p2bnGV-9a), or cousins Juan Berry and James Suggs (http://wp.me/P2bnGV-5K), or Calvin Darling (http://wp.me/p2bnGV-oZ) or Charles Barnard (http://wp.me/P2bnGV-1p) or Ruslan Zhgenti (http://wp.me/P2bnGV-1e) or Norma McKee and Michael Healy (http://wp.me/P2bnGV-fg) or Stanley Gibson (http://wp.me/p2bnGV-kp). These are just a fraction of the many people who were obeying the law yet encountered a valley police officer and that encounter lead to degrading, violent, and even deadly results.

    These encounters (and the lack of accountability far too many of the offending officers faced), and not "some run in of [their] own doing," are what lead so many to distrust today's law enforcement.

    Encounters like these have cost tax payers more than $10 million since 2000 alone.

    You see, Tom, that's the problem with mindless propaganda like yours. It never holds up to cold, hard reality. While your self-proclaimed lack of experience in these matters is somewhat of an excuse. There is no excuse for your self-indulgent, self-perpetuated ignorance on this area.

    Educate yourself, or continue to be counted among the uniformed.

  5. @TomD...Why don't you check out BGHS1986's links before you call the victims of police misconduct "drug addled, violent scumbags"?

    Your belief about good cops far outweighing bad cops is willfully ignorant. All those "good cops" knowingly work beside bad cops every day and do nothing and say nothing. That makes them just as culpable.

  6. Start taking all the penalties that have resulted from the incidents bghs1986 has named from the police retirement fund and a) I wager the budget would be in much better shape, and b) I bet the number of incidents would drastically decrease.

  7. @Tom...The majority of people who vote in local elections are senior citizens who are susceptible to fear-mongering.

    "Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
    Mark Twain

  8. @TomD1228....So, when you are put face-to-face with the real, God's honest truth that your original statement, "Obey the laws of the land and you'll likely never encounter a cop." is hogwash, you suddenly switch your position away from cops only hurt the guilty vermin to, "Every big city has cases of cops stepping over the line."

    Is your best argument really, "But Mommmmm, everybody else is doing it?"

    And your assertion that I "you want to indict the entire force" for the actions of it's bad officers is both childish and without merit. Please tell me what I've posted that supports such nonsense.

    What I will readily admit is that I want to indict the entire force for its inability to deal with the "instances of cops overreacting and making mistakes." (BTW, how would you characterize a cop forcing a couple to put on a sex how for his personal enjoyment?: overreacting or simple mistake?)

    The vast majority of officers I listed who have either beaten, killed or falsely arrested innocent people continue to keep collecting my tax dollars as members of local LE, and many have repeated their criminal actions under the protection of the the department. In what other world can an employee break the law, overreact, or make a mistake costing it's employer millions of dollars and not only avoid termination, but rather receive promotions? It is this level of both criminal, moral and fiscal irresponsibility for which I want to indict both the LVMPD and the HPD.

    But you live a coward's life where you fear your own illusions that "there's more scum in this town than you can shake a stick at" in order to ignore the the very real, very blatant criminal activities of police officers either condoned or ignored by officials. After all you chant the official motto of fear mongers everywhere, "The good they do far outweighs these instances of overreaching that happens in every big city police force." More simply put, my perceived safety is enough for me to accept criminal actions by police.

    But you are mistaken. No one put it better than Benjamin Franklin who warned, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." If he were alive today I bet you would say "types like [him] are the real problem."

    Well if demanding accountability and holding sacred the very rights upon which America was founded upon is what you view as the problem, what do you see as the solution?

  9. @Tom..Because I have not wholly dismissed your comments as gibberish, I will readily admit you are accurate in stating, "If the population was so concerned they could have voted Gillespie out." (Although more than 1/3 of voters were willing to put a completely unqualified person in office rather than the re-elect Gillespie you are correct.)

    Oddly, at the same time you tout the wisdom of the voters you urge me to "Stop parading out" the truth. You completely ignore another of our founding fathers, for it was Jefferson who stated,

    "... whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."

    Only a true opponent of democracy and the fundamental rights of all Americans would espouse ignorance over enlightenment as you so willingly do here. I seem recall Hitler won a majority of his nations votes as well. Perhaps the Holocaust was just a collection of "instances of [Nazis] overreacting and making mistakes." How wrong we were to indict a entire nation for the actions of a few bad apples, is that it Tom?

    Would you not indict Al Queda for the "mistakes" of a few hijackers? I sure would, but then I'm crazy that way.

    If you really hold such strong beliefs, please tell me which of your children (or grandchildren) you would willingly offer to be beaten, raped, falsely incarcerated or simply killed by the mistakes of a overreaching member of law enforcement which you feel would be far outweighed by "the good they do."

    And please give us their names, as I am sure your family deserves to know which among them you would so easily sacrifice so you can no longer fear the bogey man.

  10. I think healthy criticism of Metro can be helpful. Maybe next election more people will pay attention and maybe a good candidate will run.

    I think one budget item that I haven't seen any criticism of is Metro's digital radio system. It has never worked correctly and had a role in the confusion on scene of the disturbed veteran who was shot in his car. They paid millions to switch it and they are still paying to get it working correctly. The emergency button on the radios doesn't work as it did with the old system. Gillespie should be facing public hearings over the debacle.

  11. What effect did integrating the North Las Vegas Police into Metro have? Or did they move in the wrong direction?

    Maybe integrate Metro with NLV or Henderson? The fact is, these mergers end up creating an even bigger mess then the original conditions.

  12. There is no budget problem. CUT COMPENSATION down to reasonable levels. Currently, the cost of each recruit exceeds $100K for the first year NOT counting POST and other training. Officers should also pay half their PERS retirement, instead of the employer paying it all, all retirement, all health care.

  13. @The_Next_Opinion.."The North Las Vegas police force manages to deal with "scumbags" without killing people most of the time."

    Great observation.

    That is exactly why I did not mention them in my dressing down of TomD. The reason the last NLV officer involved fatality was over a year ago, ending a nearly two year fatality free run is quite simple. The NLVPD has a history and reputation of terminating officers simply for lying. When officers face that type of accountability they know their actions will be held to the higher level of scrutiny their positions demand and as a result make better decisions.