We recently emailed the North Las Vegas police chief’s office for comment regarding a citizen’s complaint that he was illegally detailed for openly carrying a handgun in a city park—a right that is protected by state law. The city ordinances prohibiting such actions were recently repealed, as required by a new state law. In the time since we first published the article on the blog, we have learned about more similar illegal detentions that lead us to believe this is a pattern and practice, often based on nothing more than an undesirable person (usually race-based) legally exercising their right to bear arms.
It took over ten days to get a response of substance (from first inquiry). This is the response from Chief Alexander Perez with editors comments in red.
"Thank you for inquiring about the policies of the North Las Vegas Police Department. I believe it is important for the citizens as well as the police officers of this city to know and understand the laws governing them."
While the Chief believes that police and citizens should be educated in matters of the law, actual follow through and obedience to the law by his officers is lacking. Knowledge is one thing, obedience is the other.
"Reference the open carry of firearms: I want to ensure you that the policy of the North Las Vegas Police Department is to enforce the ordinances of the City of North Las Vegas, state and federal laws."
How they are not enforcing the repealed ordinances? We understand they are enforcing local laws (that is the purpose of law enforcement). The issue at hand is improper enforcement of laws that no longer exist and would have no validity anyway. What about obedience to the laws that prohibit behavior such as occurred in this incident?
"The North Las Vegas Police Department and its officers are aware of the passage and adoption of SB 175 and 240 as well as the amendments made to the City of North Las Vegas Municipal code reflecting the state law changes."
Aware or actively practicing? Have they been finally educated, reminded, and ordered to stop enforcing illegal (now non-existent) laws? What about illegal detentions, lying to citizens, and threatening them with arrest? Does the Chief care that his officers’ actions may very well discourage citizens from carrying and thus put them at risk of violence?
"Regarding the specific incident from September 20, 2015, it has been looked into and handled on an interdepartmental level. The City's employment policies restrict any comment on the specifics of any internal investigation or personnel matter."
This is perfectly understandable. I’d be a little worried if they did go into detail. Based on my experience, the officers were likely verbally admonished with a warning no to do it again (independent media is watching). It is important to note, he did not deny this happened or correct us on the details, therefore verifying it did occur as reported to us.
At the very least, why not a disclaimer? “Sorry about that, it appears to be an isolated incident. I know we’ve had problems in the past, but I’m a new chief committed to fixing those issues. We support the right to bear arms and will work very hard to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.” Humility is apparently not part of government officials' make-up.
We’d like to believe that police are bigger than this sort of thing. Additionally, Nevada Carry has expended a lot of time and words to defending North Las Vegas and its police by arguing that these incidents haven’t happened in years. Clearly, we were wrong.
One might say that this is tacit approval to these officers behaviors; that with the ‘right’ subject, in the ‘right’ circumstances, lying about the law and an illegal detention for the purposes of harassment. Business as usual all along? The ends justify the means? Are we wrong in our assumptions?
We asked for a public disavowal of such behavior as it would go a long way in the mind of the Nevada gun community that your department does not approve of officers who behave in such illegal and unethical manner. Instead of such disavowal, the reply your editor received was fairly vague and paid bare lip service to the concerns raised. Maybe they incorrectly have shrugged this off as a trivial matter, failing to recognize their failures with the public over the years. Accepting wrongs have occurred, apologizing, and working to actively correct the is what the public needs to restore the distrust many cities have with the police.