Executive Director’s Message

Chris Collins

Political Season

You will receive this issue of the Vegas Beat about a week or so after you have headed to the polls to vote. I am sure many of you were waiting for the election results with a very keen eye on who won the Sheriff’s race. This November election will mark the end of the election season for most of you. Those of us at the PPA have a little different perspective, though; our “political season” is really just getting started.

After the election, we will reach out to all of our endorsed candidates to either congratulate them or let them know how sorry we are that they did not win. After that, we will reach out to those candidates we did not endorse that won their elections. As to these candidates who won but did not receive our endorsement, we will work to try and find common ground on several key issues that will come up either on the local level or in the 2015 Nevada legislative session. As always, the PPA will have a full-time representative at the legislative session. As luck would have it, this year that person will be me. I will be working hand in hand with other public safety representatives to make sure the legislators up in Carson City understand the issues and matters that are of concern to us as law enforcement public employees. We will do our very best to track the hundreds, if not thousands, of bills that get introduced. Of course, our full attention will be given to the bills that have the most direct impact on public safety and first responders. The representatives of public safety are far outnumbered at the session by folks with other interests. We would not be as successful as we are if we did not receive some help from other groups. This help comes from groups like the Culinary Union, the AFL-CIO, the teachers union and the trade unions. Please keep this in mind as you have interaction with these groups, either on a personal or professional level, that in many cases, we are all on the same team. I will keep you updated as the session moves forward.

The PPA Taxi Ride Program

This particular issue of the Vegas Beat seems to be the perfect place and time to remind all of you about the PPA taxi ride program. Just a week or two after you receive this issue, the holiday season will be in full swing. Along with the holidays come the many parties and social gatherings where, oftentimes, we find we have had too much to drink. Then comes the decision of whether to drive home. Don’t! There is just too much at risk — personally and professionally. We have arranged to get you home in these circumstances in cooperation with some of our local cab companies. This program that I am talking about is designed to allow you to get home from anywhere in the valley when you have had too much to drink. (The program is not to enable you to go from bar to bar or party to party, to get all of your buddies home or to get you a free ride to the airport.)

It is very simple to use; you must be a PPA member and you should have a taxi voucher card and your police identification with you. Simply call one of the numbers on the taxi voucher card, Frias at (702) 888-4888 or Whittlesea Bell at (702) 384-6111. Let the dispatcher know you are a PPA member and that you would like a cab to take you home. The cab driver may have a couple questions for you as it is still new to some, but in the end, your voucher will be filled out and sent to the PPA so the bill can be paid. This benefit would not be available to you if not for Bell Transportation, Frias Transportation and Patti, Sgro, Lewis and Roger Law Firm, which are the local businesses that have sponsored the program. If this program keeps one member from been arrested for DWI or one member from being in an accident, then it is well worth it. Don’t put a damper on the season by having an alcohol-related incident. Go out, have fun and unwind, but remember somebody loves you and wants to see you tomorrow and is expecting you to come home, so please use this program if the need arises. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

The Press and Bryan Yant

Most of you either read or heard about the most recent attack on Bryan Yant, one of our new Executive Board members here at the PPA, by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. To make a long story short, the Review-Journal printed a story asking how the PPA could bring Bryan up to the Executive Board. It even went on to make the assumption that this move was my way of getting to the Sheriff.

First, let me say that I have been given the great honor and privilege of being the elected executive director of the PPA by you, the membership. You can rest assured that at no time do I make decisions based on anything other than what I believe is in the best interest of the PPA and our membership. I don’t make critical decisions about personnel, or anything else for that matter, without consulting with my entire team. And even after the whole Executive Board thinks a particular person is the right pick for a position up at the PPA, that decision must then be approved by the entire elected Board of Directors. All of that happened with our selection of Bryan Yant.

So now let’s get to the meat of the matter. Bryan was involved in a shooting back in 2010 that the press had issues with. I happened to be on call the night of the shooting so I was familiar with this shooting from the first night until the conclusion of the corner’s inquest where Bryan took the stand and testified for more than four hours, which included answering more than 1,600 questions. In the end, a corner’s inquest jury found the use of deadly force was justified.

During that period of time, I watched Bryan go through hell and back. During that same time period, we all learned that mistakes had been made in the search warrant, but no one ever disagreed that the search warrant was legal and that it was served properly. More importantly, no one ever disagreed that the suspect in the shooting was indeed the same suspect that had been involved in several hand-to-hand narcotics sales with an undercover officer. All police shootings are tragedies; this one no more so than any other one. Regardless, our Department took the position that Bryan would be assigned to a duty that had no suspect contact. He worked at the Fusion Center. During his time there, he did not become a disgruntled employee as one might expect; rather, he did just the opposite. Bryan became a very valuable member of the Sheriff’s team while there. He was tasked with helping write the policy on how the Fusion Center would operate. One of his final assignments there was to help write the policy on body cameras.

Four years after the shooting, Bryan was given the opportunity to work at the PPA full time. Bryan is now a valuable member of the PPA and I am very glad of that. Who better to assist you if you are ever in a shooting than someone who has been through it personally? I don’t believe any of us has the right to “Monday-morning quarterback” or second guess an officer who has been in a shooting. We were not there, we did not see what the officer saw, and most importantly, we were not the officer who pulled the trigger. Only the involved officer can know for sure what happened and only he or she can then explain his or her actions. Again, having heard the evidence, a jury found Bryan’s actions justified.

None of us would want our coworkers and friends to second guess our decisions at work and certainly not the hardest most important work decision we will ever make, the decision to use deadly force. Rather than second guess Bryan’s decision, I support him and thank God he is here with us today. I have every intention to reappoint Bryan to the Executive Board this December. I am sorry if this decision has upset some of you, but I can assure you that I believe it is in the best interest of the PPA and the membership. If you disagree please, feel free to call or email me.

As always, be safe and fight the good fight.