Police Departments

Policing the police

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Illustration: Chris Morris

Police are rarely seen by their peers as fallible. Go to any inquest dealing with an officer-involved shooting and you’ll soon discover that to be true. As Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, puts it, “In my experience, you usually hear, ‘Our people did the right thing, and we’re going to do a thorough investigation’—basically jumping to conclusions first and then acting.” The high number of officer-involved shootings in Las Vegas this year only serves to heighten the perception that law enforcement sometimes operates unchecked. Which makes it all the more incredible or, as Lichtenstein puts it, “rare,” that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is recommending to the District Attorney that two of its officers face charges in a May accident that led to a man’s death. The officers allegedly failed to obey a sergeant’s order to stop a vehicle pursuit, eventually colliding with the suspect’s vehicle. “I would commend the police for not trying to cover something up simply because it’s one of their own. They’re applying the law, and that’s what their job is.” It’s a refreshing reminder that the system sometimes works.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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