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State lawmakers discuss policing reforms

LVMPD updates use of force policy
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Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 22:37:35-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Continuing the conversation and taking action. State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to figure out how to implement changes after two weeks of protests.

As protests continue, the protesters’ demands for police reform continue. State lawmakers say they are listening.

“The time for conversing is over and it’s time to implement actual plans.”

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford says he’s taking action on police accountability in light of George Floyd’s death. Ford signed a letter asking Congress for the authority to investigate possible misconduct by local police departments along with 17 other attorneys general.

“The pattern or practice investigation can not only uncover bad practices that are discriminatory, but it can also exonerate a department,” he said.

Ford held a panel discussion with state lawmakers, including Republican Assemblyman Tom Roberts, a former LVMPD assistant sheriff. Roberts called for a special legislative session on police reform, that got bipartisan agreement. He says more community involvement is needed to enhance relationships with police.

“Police departments are only as legitimate as the citizens that the police allow them to be. So, in order for citizens to have buy-in, they have to weigh-in,” he said.

Roberts says departments like Metro Police have implemented best practices through bodycams and community policing.

“Law enforcement in this state are already doing what is considered best practices in the country,” he said.

Attorney General Ford says he feels a responsibility as a black man in power to take action.

“And I want all sons of black parents to see some justice and some progress on this issue,” he said.

Overhauling its use of force policy. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police says it did just that about a week and a half before protests over George Floyd’s death broke out.

The use of force by police, being placed under scrutiny after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Just days before, Metro Police overhauled its use of force policy emphasizing de-escalation.

“As police, we want to use the least amount of force, and obviously you don’t want to use any force if you can.”

Assemblyman and former Metro assistant sheriff Tom Roberts says, it’s a best practice the department is pursuing. He believes it’s one way of building community trust.

“How do we find the balance to where we instill trust in the community, but at the same time, give our police officers, the tools that they need to do the job effectively as we ask them to,” he said.

The revised use of force policy also contains new sections on communicating and showing empathy to help diffuse conflicts. Roberts says it’s an important skill that could have been used in the arrest of George Floyd to avoid escalation.

“They go to escort him to the car and he tells them he has claustrophobia and can’t be put in the back of the car but rather than communicate through that, they forced him in the car which brings us to where we are today,” he said.

Roberts believes Metro Police has been setting the gold standard recently on policing reforms but says there is always room for improvement.

“Could there be challenges and things we need to do better, and if the community says there is, that’s the reality, we need to be better,” he said.