As we are nearing the halfway point of this Nevada legislative cycle, I know many of you have heard rumors about some of the bills being proposed that, if passed, will have an effect on law enforcement. The big rumor is that legislators are attempting to take away qualified immunity, and I am happy to report that as of today there is no language in any bill that removes qualified immunity at the state level. We are closely monitoring bill language to ensure they do not try to end qualified immunity during this legislative session.
We have had to do all of our lobbying via Zoom, but that will change by the middle of April, when the legislative building opens back up, which will allow us to meet face to face with politicians to air our concerns before formal Senate and Assembly floor votes occur. As you can imagine, there has been some spirited debate during hearings about law enforcement issues where it is clear some of the bill sponsors do not understand our profession and are only trying to pass laws in a vacuum, having never reached out to the LVPPA for our input. In one hearing I sat through, Senator Dallas Harris let professional protesters from Project Zero testify on behalf of her use-of-force bill and lauded them as “use-of-force policy experts.” All the statistics they presented were skewed or false, and empirical research proved it. Another person Senator Harris let testify on behalf of her same bill accused officers of murder on use-of-force cases where the Clark County district attorney had already ruled the cases were justified. What is worse, Chair Melanie Scheible and Co-Chair Nicole Cannizzaro of the committee are Clark County deputy district attorneys who have responded to OIS scenes and did not correct the person testifying who accused officers of murder. This is just some of the silliness that we are dealing with this legislative session.
We have none of the problems that we have seen over the last year at other police departments in other states, but Nevada politicians have made this session a referendum on police reform to respond to the nonexistent issues in Nevada. Even though poll after poll in Clark County shows that the majority of citizens support law enforcement, some politicians think there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Most of the reform bills codify in law what is already in the LVMPD policy manual, with a few additions that they say will help them study bias-based policing.
One bright spot for officers is the bill being carried by Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill, which, when passed, will codify into law the ability of retiring officers to meet with a psychologist for up to two hours, paid for by LVMPD, to discuss any negative effects on their mental health as they leave policing. Far too many times we see officers commit suicide after they retire, and this bill will help curb officer suicide.