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Does Las Vegas Need Its Own Police Department?

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Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT – Right now it’s just a sidebar from a city council meeting. Officials recently lamented rising crime in the urban core and the big bucks the city spends on Metro Police services, while Clark County enjoys primary influence on Metro’s operation.

But the conversation took a turn toward Carson City when Councilman Bob Beers asked whether the legislature should be approached to sever the decades-old consolidation of the Las Vegas Police Department with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman noted that North Las Vegas and Henderson have their own police departments.

The city of Las Vegas pays 40 percent of the tab for Metro, with Clark County paying 60 percent. City Manager Betsy Fretwell told the council it’s the largest single item in the general fund budget.

“It’s amazing to me that we have such a huge obligation from our budget,” Goodman responded, “and yet we have no control.”

Other council members feel at the mercy of the county commission, which they fear may vote down the More Cops sales tax initiative early next month.

“Our police safety is essentially being held hostage by a minority of the county commission,” Councilman Bob Coffin said.

The Clark County Commission was charged by the state legislature earlier this year with voting on a .15 cent sales tax increase to fund the hiring of more police officers. The measure won’t pass unless two-thirds of the commission approves it.

A vigorous lobbying campaign by Sheriff Doug Gillespie prior to the legislative session included securing resolutions of support for a .25 cent sales tax increase from the governing bodies of all the cities in Clark County. The Las Vegas City Council passed a resolution after sitting for a presentation by Gillespie. The Sheriff took all the resolutions to Carson City during the session.

The legislature green-lighted a smaller tax increase, pending approval from the Clark County Commission to raise the tax.

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