Looking Back on 2023

Steven Grammas

It seems like just yesterday I was saying that 2022 had flown by, and now here we are, publishing our last issue of Vegas Beat for 2023. This has certainly been another busy year, and as we enter the holiday season and focus on giving thanks for the many gifts in our lives, I’m filled with gratitude for each and every one of our PPA members; our Board of Directors, delegates and staff; and all of our partners and supporters who have helped to make it a very successful one as well.

We started 2023 on an optimistic note, as the induction of our first new sheriff since 2015 promised a new direction for LVMPD. I wrote in my January message that I believed our new leadership was committed to truly listening to our line-level officers, and six months later I was pleased to report that most of our interactions with Sheriff McMahill and his administration have been positive and have resulted in good outcomes for our membership. While no one can wave a magic wand and fix every problem instantaneously, we have seen many welcome changes, and I am hopeful that trend will continue throughout 2024.

Of course, that did not mean the PPA simply rested on our laurels this year. There was still more than enough work to be done in our ongoing efforts to preserve and promote our members’ rights, benefits and well-being within the Department, as well as in our community and in the political arena. Although we didn’t have to contend with as many misguided police reform bills as we encountered in recent past legislative sessions, it remains clear that the public policy conversation is in dire need of powerful, unified and informative law enforcement voices at both the state and national levels to educate our elected officials about the challenges and dangers that our officers face, the real-world impacts proposed bills would have on public safety and what needs to be done to protect our communities.

While rising crime in some areas has led many municipalities around the country to see the error of their ways and back away from more extreme “reform” steps such as defunding the police, this is still an extremely difficult time for our profession. The damage to morale caused by the intense scrutiny of law enforcement, combined with the chaos of the COVID era, has resulted in a major police officer shortage in the United States. In April, the Police Executive Research Forum reported that although hiring efforts have picked back up after declining during the pandemic, agencies are losing officers faster than they can hire them. PERF’s survey found that retirements are up 19% compared to 2019, and resignations have jumped a whopping 47%. In addition to veteran officers leaving in droves, fewer young people are willing to enter the profession, leaving departments struggling to fill open positions. Some are lowering qualification standards or offering increased pay, benefits and other incentives. Some small agencies that cannot afford to compete for applicants have been forced to dissolve.

All of this leaves our communities shorthanded at a time when law enforcement is critically needed. Although homicide and other violent crimes declined in the first half of 2023, according to a study of trends in 37 American cities conducted by the Council on Criminal Justice, they are still higher than the levels seen before the pandemic. In addition, some types of crime are skyrocketing, including motor vehicle theft, which rose 33.5% overall and more than 100% in some cities, such as Cincinnati (162%) and Rochester, New York (355%!). Spikes in other types of property crimes, such as smash-and-grab robberies and other organized retail theft, have terrorized businesses and citizens in many cities. Add to that the horrors of the fentanyl crisis and the tragic frequency of mass shootings nationwide, and this is no time to fail to invest in law enforcement. When personnel are stretched thin and agencies try to do more with less, it not only endangers our communities but also leads to plummeting morale and rising burnout and traumatic stress among officers — which in turn only increases the attrition.

In addition to the serious risks to officers’ mental and emotional health in this hostile environment, there are the very real physical dangers we face each and every day. Multiple times each week on our social media platforms, we share the heartbreaking stories of brave and dedicated officers from across the country who will never return home to their families. And this year during National Police Week, we honored five of our own who lost their lives in the line of duty in the past two years. We are thankful that overall line-of-duty deaths are down significantly from last year (56% at the time of this writing, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page), largely due to substantial reductions in deaths from COVID-19. We have been fortunate to lose fewer officers to gunfire, but the number of officers who have been shot remains alarmingly high: 290 so far this year, which is 22% higher than in 2020. In particular, there have been 92 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers thus far this year, resulting in 109 officers shot and 16 killed. Every attack on an officer is disturbing, but these premeditated, targeted surprise attacks are especially troubling.

The problems facing our profession are daunting, yet I believe in our law enforcement family and know that we will persevere in protecting our communities to the best of our ability, whatever it takes. There is strength in numbers, and our PPA stands as an example of all that can be accomplished when we unite for a common cause. As we look back at the year, now is the time to celebrate our many successes — including our new contract, which went into effect July 1 and includes longevity pay, a benefit we have long fought for. Other highlights included another successful Police vs. Fire charity football game, two LVMPD officers being presented with Top Cops Awards during National Police Week and our own magazine winning a Communicator Award. We introduced a legislative bill tracker on our website to help keep our members apprised of what’s happening on the political front, and as 2024 is an election year, I urge you to stay up to date and involved on the issues that affect our Department and our profession as a whole. We also loved being able to host a variety of gatherings where our members and their families could enjoy a fun and relaxing time together, from sporting events (including celebrating our Golden Knights bringing home the Stanley Cup!) to Easter to Oktoberfest to our upcoming Santa Day on November 19.

I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy, healthy new year. Rest assured that whatever 2024 brings us, your PPA will continue to be here to support you and fight for you.

Jumping the Chain of Command

Steven Grammas

I hope this article finds all our members happy and healthy. We are moving toward the end of the summer. Kids are returning to school, stores are putting out Halloween decorations and the thought of the summer heat changing into that beautiful fall Las Vegas weather is lingering in our minds.

I wanted to talk about jumping the chain of command, but from the lens of a supervisor who jumps the chain downward toward the troops. We have been seeing a rash of captains and lieutenants holding meetings with officers to talk about issues such as health and well-being, work product or how officers have conducted themselves in the course and scope of their duties. I am not sure how our members feel about this taking place and can only speak from my own thoughts on these issues.

First, we as officers are constantly told not to jump the chain of command. In fact, I know several officers who have been chastised for going over their sergeant’s head and speaking to the lieutenant or captain about an issue. Typically, their issue deals with their sergeant, so they only feel comfortable talking to someone above them. But the officer still feels the wrath of the sergeant for jumping over them. But what happens when you get a calendar appointment from your captain, who says, “I just want to talk about a few things”? Go a step further. The captain says they want to talk to you about an incident where your sergeant has already handled the issue.

In my opinion, if supervisors wanted to have normal, day-to-day talks with officers about work performance and other things of that nature, they should not have promoted above the rank of sergeant. Now, I do not want this to be misconstrued as me saying a captain should never talk to a troop, or a captain should never address issues they have with something a troop has done. Rather, I would offer that the captain should keep their interactions to, “Good morning, how are things going? What can I do to make your job easier? Are there things you need that you are not getting?” This is the role of the administrator. I also believe that if there is an issue with a troop’s performance, the captain should be involved. However, that should be a meeting with the lieutenant, who then speaks to the sergeant, who then can address their troop. The captain should not be addressing things like that by jumping two levels of supervision, effectually cutting the supervisory legs out from under a lieutenant or sergeant. The troops should not be having these conversations with the bureau commander, no matter how “cool” or “approachable” the captain is.

Imagine what happens to your psychological state of mind when your captain says he wants to meet with you! You will spend days wondering and fearing, “This must be super serious, otherwise why else would the captain be meeting with me?!” Those types of thoughts will linger in the officer’s mind as they go out on patrol or are inside the jail working a module. It could have a serious safety impact on them; their head won’t be in the game because they’ll be worried about why such a high-ranking official is scheduling a meeting with them.

When I was a cadet, I tended to think I was already a police officer, and so I would back other officers whenever I felt they needed some help or even requested another unit. One time, an officer was out on five males near Vegas High School and was asking for another unit. I was close and told dispatch I was out with him. I then faintly hear what I believe to be a traffic unit say, “2CD55, Tom 220.” I respond with, “Go ahead, Tom 220.” The response was, “This isn’t Tom 220; this is 220, Captain Dennis Cobb, and I need you to come back to NEAC and see me.” If it was not for the green pants I wore as a cadet, clearly the poop streak would have been visible from me pooping my pants in fear of the captain wanting to see me. The entire ride there I was nervous, as I knew a conversation with the captain was not a good thing. When I arrived, he made it very clear to me that I would have my time as an officer, but for now, the cadet cannot be a backup for a real officer on any calls. Captain Cobb was a very nice man, and while he was a very friendly captain who had known my family for a long time, I absolutely was scared to talk to him.

Conversely, on another issue of me backing up officers as a cadet, my sergeant held a meeting with our entire squad and wrote on a whiteboard that a typical car stops with the black and white behind a citizen car, with a contact officer and a cover officer. The sergeant asked the squad what was wrong with the look of the stop. After several attempts to ID the issue, the sergeant circled the cover officer and said, “This can’t be the cadet!” We all laughed, including me, but I absolutely took seriously what he was saying and stopped my backup ways (well, mostly, LOL). This was certainly a conversation for the sergeant and myself and the squad, not necessarily for the captain and me.

I guess the point of this article is to let all our officers, and the ranking members of this Department who read our magazine, know that once you promote, you should deal with the level below you only. Don’t jump levels of leadership to address issues and talk directly to the troops. Talk to your lower leadership and let them do their job of addressing the issues. Otherwise, stay a sergeant. Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought on this issue.

As always, if you ever need anything from me or the rest of the Executive Board of the PPA, just reach out. Stay safe. 

So Far, So Good Under New Sheriff

Steven Grammas

I hope that 2023 has been a great year so far for all our members and their families.

This is the first President’s Message I am writing under a new Sheriff with new ideas for our agency. As is customary in my position, working with the administration is a daily occurrence. As it was with Sheriff Lombardo and his team, your Executive Board has been in constant contact with the upper administration quite frequently. I am very happy to report that, as we expected, most of the interactions have been positive and have had great outcomes for our membership.

Under Sheriff McMahill, I have had a steady dialogue and have found him to have a very open mind to a lot of different issues that the PPA has brought forward. Several issues that, in the past, probably would have needed to be resolved in the courtroom were worked out among us in conversation. That’s not to say he has been a pushover. He still has a job to do and still needs to run the agency in a certain way that is responsive to the public, but most of the time, we have a similar view on how our folks should be treated. Like me, the Sheriff doesn’t know everything occurring below him on the agency. There have been times when supervisors have acted in a certain way that did not share the same vision as Sheriff McMahill, but when we contacted the Sheriff, it has usually been handled swiftly. This makes for some very positive changes in the way our troops are treated, as well as moving us away from the old way of ruling with an iron fist. I believe the new administration understands that some of the best ideas for our agency come from the boots-on-the-ground troops who are out there doing the job every day.

There used to be a term I learned from my friend Kirk called “the ignorance of rank.” Some people felt that just because they took a test and promoted, all of a sudden they were endowed with every answer to every problem that has ever been. Those supervisors felt that no one below them had anything to offer in any scenario because those people never passed a test. I see a shift in the attitudes of our supervisors today. While not all, most are recognizing that they are not always the smartest person in the room or on a call and defer to their troops when it is called for. This makes for a better team environment, where we all have a voice and feel valued when we speak.

I know it has only been six months with our new leadership, but I have a very hopeful feeling that the direction is more about taking care of the troops and less about appeasing a small public that screams loudly into a microphone or has anti-police representatives in the State Legislature. Those folks are still there, but I do not think our administration is giving them much of an audience. Time will tell, though. I hope the President’s Message next year is as positive as this one. If things change, just know that your Executive Board at the PPA is still ready to bring forward any fight against anyone who tries to hurt our officers. We still own our billboards around town and will never be afraid to put out a message supporting our cops and attacking those who try to vilify them.

Thank you all and have a wonderful rest of the year.

The Myth of the “Best Trained Department in the Country”

Steven Grammas

This article is going to talk about what I feel is the myth surrounding LVMPD being the best-trained police department in the country. While I do not feel our training is anywhere near where it should be, this does not mean we do not start out as one of the best-trained departments in the country. I believe that the instruction and training that our officers get in the Academy are second to none. We spend a long time learning and practically applying things that we are given over the course of six months.

When coming out of the Academy, officers have a great base for tactics, policy, search and seizure, and defensive and firearms tactics. The instructors who teach at the Academy do a great job and have so much good information to pass along. Many hours of these teachings are spent drilling them time and again during those six months. Multiple repetitions for any skill set are how that skill set becomes part of you. With such a heavy emphasis put on new officers at the Academy, one would think that that same emphasis is applied throughout an officer’s entire career. Sadly, we know this is not the case. I think after we leave the Academy, we lose those amazing skills we obtained in the Academy.

Getting on the streets and handling calls for service or impacting hotspot areas becomes more important than keeping your skill set in good working order. It would appear that our agency feels that if it was taught to you in the Academy, you would always have those skill sets. That is an amazingly horrible thought process. Look at any pro athlete in any sport. They do not train for six months, become very proficient at their craft and then just stop until the day comes for a game or match. If a fighter in the UFC developed their skills and no longer had a fight camp to train and prepare for their upcoming fight, they would stand no chance at victory.

The truth is skill sets need to be continually developed and practiced over thousands of hours of time. Repetition over repetition is the only way to maintain your training. Once our officers graduate from the Academy, the most training they get is in front of a computer screen through UMLV.

When we look at the officers who work in areas such as FTTU, AOST, RBT, MACTAC and others, they can pass along some great training to our officers. But we only go four times a year to the range to stay proficient in handling and using our firearm, which is the highest level of force we have. We do defensive tactics four times a year, but every quarter is different, so you only really skill-build a specific tactic one time a year.

We do RBT/AOST once a year to apply our thought processes and training in real-world-based scenarios. And then we spend countless hours on UMLV, getting nonsense classes and only very few good ones that challenge our retention of Department policy and case law.

Most of the classes are merely to satisfy some outside group that probably isn’t all that law enforcement friendly anyway. Training days with structured training fall by the wayside for DP units or pet projects in the community. But every time we skip training, we lose or diminish our skill set. When an officer is involved in a case that goes to a use of force/tactical review board, the CIRT team always brings up our officers’ training. However, they fail to recognize how little we actually train and blame officers for things they trained on five years ago in the Academy or read in UMLV.

Policy changes happen frequently but are rarely hammered home with kinesthetic training/hands-on training so that the new policy has been ingrained in the officer. I have observed the use-of-force policy change several times over my career, and the only training given is a new document and a sign-off sheet to acknowledge you got the policy change. And our agency and the public wonder why officers make mistakes!

We are not getting the proper amount of training to truthfully say that our officers are the best-trained police department in the country. We could be, though. It may mean one day, a few extra 416b calls hold because a squad is continuing to build their critical skill set rather than hitting the streets to clear up calls.

Of course, we all recognize that our agency is down bodies. But if we want the best response to a police call for service, we need to provide our citizens with the genuinely best-trained police officers that we can. That training doesn’t come from a computer screen. It comes from real training days, with real direction and real application. For now, I would advise you to seek out your own training. Whether it is coming to the PPA to train with Chad Lyman, going up to the range or getting together as a squad on your own time to train, you need to do something to increase the likelihood of you winning an engagement during your tour of duty. Stay safe and train.

LVMPD Dispatcher Tiffany Grammas Retires After 15 Years of Dedicated Service

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

Typically, the members of the Executive Board write their articles for publication. This article will be different. After 15-plus years of service to the community and LVMPD, my amazing wife, Tiffany Grammas, retired from her position as your dispatcher. I wanted to give her a forum to write an article addressed to those who have meant so much to her, those being her officers on the other end of the radio. To my wife, thank you for the 15 years of dedicated service to the community and to my members, as well as being an amazing mother and wife. I am so proud to say that I have been lucky enough to be your husband, as we not only celebrate your retirement, but also 20 years of marriage. I love you with all of my heart.

My name is Tiffany Grammas, and I have had the pleasure of being your dispatcher for the past 15 years. Unfortunately, my career is coming to an end; the constant stress and mental fatigue that this job has caused has taken its toll. A dispatcher’s job requires us to be at our best at all times, and when that is not possible, it is time to clock out. I was given this opportunity by my husband to write a little article to thank the officers and to explain what being a dispatcher has meant to me.

Tiffany Grammas

Some may know me by name, some may know me by voice and others may never have worked with me before, but being a dispatcher has been the most rewarding job I have ever had. A good dispatcher will make it look easy, but I can assure you it is not. It was crucial for me to be in tune with my officers, to anticipate what your needs were before you knew what they would be. 

Being able to tell something was wrong just by the tone of your voice. Getting a C4 from you for the fifth time just so I could hear your voice to know that you were OK. Making sure I checked the 82 list before assigning you to a call (because we all know that is the most important part). Making sure I gave you every detail on a call and knowing all the people involved prior to you arriving so I could be prepared for what we were dealing with. Double-checking the status monitors over and over to make sure you were at the location you were supposed to be, not because I wanted to be nosy, but because I wanted to make sure I knew exactly where you all were in case something happened. Worrying about you on every call and every car stop until the incident was over just so we could do it all over again. Making sure I did everything in my power to make sure you made it home to your family. This, to me, is being a great dispatcher.

Not many people have the privilege of saying that they have worked with the very best, but I can. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your world. You all deserve a thank-you because now more than ever, your job and your work is underappreciated. So to all of you out there, thank you for everything you do. Thank you for making the choice to protect and serve. Thank you for doing what so many of us are not brave enough to do. Thank you for putting your community above your family. It has been a pleasure to work with you‚ laugh with you and talk with you. I wish you all the best of luck!

New Direction for LVMPD

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

I hope the holiday season was extremely enjoyable for all of you and your families. For the last eight years, every turn of the calendar found us still under the leadership of Sheriff Lombardo. This will be a first for all of us since 2015 that we have a new leader for our organization.

My time as president of the LVPPA has solely been working with Sheriff Lombardo, and with that came a level of comfort in knowing exactly how to work with and navigate our boss. 2023 brings us all a new sheriff. Before I speak about what I believe we can expect from Sheriff McMahill and his team, I want to acknowledge the hard work, effort and long career of Sheriff (now Governor) Lombardo.

Our old boss could have been content with riding off into the sunset and retiring from public service, doing some lawn work or chores around the house. Instead, he chose to undertake the daunting task of running for governor of our great state. Let me tell those who are not aware that running as a Republican candidate in a heavily dominated Democratic state could have been an insurmountable task. Adding to the fact that Sisolak was the incumbent, this was an almost improbable win for Joe. However, he and his team kept grinding the entire campaign trail and won the Governor’s Mansion. Sheriff Lombardo was the only nonincumbent governor candidate to unseat the sitting governor! This was so important to law enforcement because those same politicians who came after our profession in the special session and the 2021 legislative session had big plans to attack police officers in the 2023 session.

Now we have a governor who will no longer allow radical politicians to pass laws hurting cops and supporting criminals. We owe Joe a big thank-you for protecting cops and citizens for at least the next four years. Congratulations, Governor Lombardo, and we look forward to your leadership in our state.

Now, on to our new sheriff. I have known, worked around and worked with Sheriff McMahill for many of my 24 years at LVMPD. What can we expect? I can tell you that Sheriff McMahill really, truly cares about the employees at LVMPD. I believe he lives by the thought that if you take care of, both personally and professionally, those who work for you, they will excel and perform at their highest levels. 

I believe we will see his executive team emulate that thought process as well, including Undersheriff Andy Walsh. For many months since Sheriff McMahill was elected, we have had many conversations about the health and well-being of our employees. His stance has not changed one bit since announcing his run for sheriff to his acceptance of LVPPA’s endorsement to now, as he takes office.

One thing that Sheriff McMahill and Undersheriff Walsh do very well is listening to the troops. For any organization to succeed, whether it be public or private sector, those who lead must know that the ideas of the line-level workers must be heard, accepted and, in many situations, implemented. It is not the administrator who sits behind a desk who has the answers as to how best to solve the problems on the streets. It is the day-to-day officer who can guide that issue and work with the administrators to implement those changes.

Our new leadership not only understands this concept but has already acted upon it. I believe we will see new uniforms, a new wellness bureau to take care of the hearts and minds of our officers and a commitment to compensate our employees in a way no other sheriff has before. They have committed to stand with the LVPPA and fight for longevity, pay raises and increases to the things that matter most to our officers. I know the Executive Board of the PPA shares my hope and optimism for the next four years. Time will tell how good the future will be. Know, however, as friendly as we are now, if the time comes for the PPA to do what we do best and fight for our members against the Department, we will not hesitate! But I am hopeful that we do not find ourselves in those situations and can have smooth sailing for the next four years.

Thank you all for your continued support and membership. Our numbers for membership are at all-time highs, and it is because of your faith in us to continue to represent you. I want to thank the Executive Board — Scott, Bryan, Myron, John, Chad, Dan, Greg and Bob — for making our Association the premiere organization in this state and one of the best, if not the best, in the country.

Thank you also to Laura, Roy and Adella for all of their hard work on the day-to-day operations at the office, as well as Kelly and David for everything they do fighting for our members. It is because of them that we are successful. Have a great 2023, and be safe!

Lessons From One of Hollywood’s Good Guys

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

This magazine will be our last edition for 2022. I am sure all our readers will agree that it seems like 2022 has flown by. As we enter the holiday season, a time for family, friends, thankfulness and appreciation for all the gifts in our lives, I wanted to post an acceptance speech from Chris Pratt after winning an award for his role in a movie.

The speech was from 2018 at the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Pratt has starred in many movies, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic Park. From my research, Pratt is also a huge supporter of law enforcement and very appreciative and grateful for the jobs our police officers do across the country. Chris’ own brother is a police officer and has been for around 18 years.

As we have observed from many in Hollywood, several award shows have taken the time to attack or speak ill of our profession. Pratt himself has even been attacked because of his support of his brother and the law enforcement community. This award acceptance speech touches so many different levels of every person walking this earth today, and with the holidays coming, I thought it was a good time to share it with our members. Pratt said: 

“This being the Generation Award, I’m … going to cut to the chase, and I’m going to speak to you, the next generation, OK? I accept the responsibility as your elder, so listen up. This is what I call ‘nine rules from Chris Pratt, Generation Award winner’:

  1. Breathe. If you don’t, you’ll suffocate.
  2. You have a soul. Be careful with it.
  3. Don’t be a turd. If you’re strong, be a protector. And if you’re smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons, and do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that.
  4. When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger. They won’t even know they’re eating medicine.
  5. It doesn’t matter what it is — earn it. A good deed. Reach out to someone in pain. Be of service. It feels good, and it’s good for your soul. 
  6. God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.
  7. If you have to poop at a party, but you’re embarrassed because you’re going to stink up the bathroom, just do what I do. Lock the door. Sit down. Get all the pee out first, OK? And then, once all the pee is done, poop. Flush. Boom. You minimize the amount of time that the poop is touching the air because if you poop first, it takes you longer to pee, and then you’re peeing on top of it, stirring it up. The poop particles create a cloud that goes out, and then everyone at the party will know that you pooped. Just — just trust me — it’s science.  
  8. Learn to pray. It’s easy, and it’s so good for your soul.
  9. And finally, nobody is perfect. People are going to tell you, ‘You’re perfect just the way you are.’ You’re not! You are imperfect. You always will be. But there is a powerful force that designed you that way. And if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget it. Don’t take it for granted.

God bless you. Please get home safely.”

I hope you all can relate to this post in some way and are able to take something away from it. It is both humorous and sincere. Live your own life that way. Be dedicated but have fun. 

Life, like 2022, flies by fast. I have watched this agency grow for over 24 years, watched my marriage grow for almost 20 and watched my children grow for 18 years. Enjoy life, enjoy work and enjoy each other. Stay safe out there, and have a wonderful holiday season.

P.S. RIP, Snookie. You were always a solid man, a solid friend and a solid cop. You will be missed.

Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

September marks National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Law enforcement officers and other first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. According to law enforcement mental advocacy organization Blue H.E.L.P., 105 officers have died by suicide so far this year. In 2021, we lost 179 brothers and sisters who took their own lives, and 186 the year before that. Tragically, 2019 saw the most suicides, with a staggering 248.1

What is the cause behind this troubling trend? How can we get these numbers down? Most importantly, what can we do to support our colleagues who are struggling?

As you may be aware, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) runs rampant in the profession due to daily on-the-job stressors, such as officer-involved shootings, fatal accidents, catastrophic events, repeated exposure to violence and trauma, long shift hours and more. Add to that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-law-enforcement sentiment, lack of support from city and government officials, and recruitment and retention challenges in the past few years, and you have a workforce that is struggling under an untold amount of pressure and stress.

According to the DOJ’s COPS Office, if untreated, PTSD can negatively affect an officer’s well-being and performance of their duties. What’s more, long-term effects of the disease include behavioral dysfunction, such as substance abuse, aggression and suicide.2 It is estimated that between 7% and 35% of officers in the U.S. are affected by PTSD and depression.3

Given these harrowing statistics and facts, it’s plain to see that now, more than ever, officers need to be encouraged by police leaders, colleagues and partners to seek help when they need it — before it’s too late. The stigma surrounding mental health struggles and suicide is unfortunately deeply rooted in our profession, causing many officers to “man up” and ignore or downplay any physical, behavioral or emotional indicators of PTSD. These officers may put on a brave face on the job, but inside, they are suffering in silence. This suffering can manifest itself in many terrible ways.

It’s time to break the stigma around these issues in law enforcement; it’s time to educate our officers on the mental health and wellness tools that are available to them and encourage them to seek them out. Our Department has its Police Employee Assistance Program (PEAP), a crisis intervention/counseling and referral service for employees and their immediate family members. However, if you’re concerned about the potential privacy concerns that Dan Coyne brings up in his article, “A More Discreet Option,” there are fortunately other free resources available, with many tailored toward law enforcement. In addition to the alternative Dan discusses, 911 At Ease International, here are a few more to add to your list:

  • 911 At Ease International: Provides first responders and their family members with access to free, professional, confidential, local, trauma-informed counseling and therapy. Call (888) 283-2734 or find out more at 911AEI.org.
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Offers 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, plus prevention and crisis resources. Dial 9-8-8 to connect with a crisis counselor. For more info, visit 988lifeline.org.
  • CopLine: A 24/7, 100% confidential helpline for officers and their families, answered by retired police officers. Contact (800) 267-5463 or visit copline.org.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a live, trained crisis counselor. For more info, visit crisistextline.org.
  • Safe Call Now: A confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide. Contact (206) 459-3020 or visit safecallnowusa.org.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Confidential, 24/7 hotline for military veterans to reach caring, qualified responders with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, many of them veterans themselves. Dial 9-8-8 then press 1, or text 838255. For more info, visit veteranscrisisline.net.4

If you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please refer to the list above for support, or contact your LVPPA representatives. We are available 24/7 to help you through whatever you’re going through. Next time you see your partner struggling or having a bad day, take the time to ask them how they’re doing, and if they need help, encourage them to talk to a mental health professional, peer supporter, chaplain or a trained crisis counselor. Together, we can help our brother and sister officers and ensure that they suffer in silence no more.


1Visit bluehelp.org/the-numbers for more statistics.
2Volanti, J. “PTSD Among Police Officers: Impact on Critical Decision Making” (2018). Community Policing Dispatch. Retrieved from tinyurl.com/3t3cddw2.
3Lilly, M. and Curry S. “Survey: What Is the State of Officer Mental Health in 2020?” (14 September 2020). Police 1. Retrieved from tinyurl.com/4hkh9h9b.
4List of mental health resources courtesy of American Police Beat (apbweb.com).

39 Years in the Making

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

In early February, Dan Coyne and I were having lengthy discussions about how to raise money for our LEAF charity. We wanted to come up with some new ideas on how to increase the revenue for the charity so that we could continue to offer the support to the families of our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as expand on our scholarships provided to our members’ children.

While we were standing in front of one of the office staff members’ desks, I saw two old flyers for the Police vs. Fire charity football game from the ’70s. It was then that I turned to Dan and said, “Why don’t we play this game again?” And 39 years after the last game was played, we began down the road of setting up the revised Police vs. Fire charity football game.

As we rolled through this process, we started looking at the history of the game. We were extremely fortunate to have retired officer and former player Roy Chandler come to the office and talk to us about the beginning of the game. Roy provided us with all the available programs from all 10 of the previous games, which were full of pictures and sponsorships for the games. Two of the programs were special to me, as I was able to see pictures of my father, who played in two of the games in the early ’80s. 

We learned how this game began and why it started. Before the first game, a firefighter had a child who was going through dialysis treatment in Utah for their illness. At the time, there was no dialysis treatment at UMC or anywhere else in the state, which forced the fellow first responder and his family to have to routinely drive to Utah to get the treatment for their child.

The two sides came together and formulated the idea for a football game that would be used as a fundraiser to help UMC purchase its own dialysis machine. At the conclusion of the game, they had raised enough money to buy three dialysis machines for UMC. As the game continued year after year, a new charity or charitable issue was the focal point of the game. Over time, contrary to what people have heard, it was not injuries that stopped the game from being played. It was becoming too costly to play the game, and not making enough money to cover those costs ultimately stopped the annual game.

This year, we were happy and excited to be able to restart this tradition and play the 11th annual Police vs. Fire charity football game, with proceeds supporting the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (LEAF), Professional Firefighters of Nevada, the Children’s Heart Foundation and the Bonanza High School football team. We hope this game continues. We know it will! The turnout P# 2704 for the game was amazing, and the sponsors who got on board with us with such short notice were greatly needed and appreciated. Next year’s game will be bigger and better, as we want to create an event, not just a game. Stay tuned for the 2023 Police vs. Fire charity football game!

Police Versus Fire Charity Football Game

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

On May 7 at 7 p.m., members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will play a charity tackle football game against fellow first responders from the Professional Firefighters of Nevada. This game used to be played back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. All the games were very competitive, but over time, the game fell by the wayside and was no longer played. We have been told that one of the reasons the game was played was to help raise money to buy medical equipment for UMC. This was noted as one of the worthiest fundraising efforts between police officers and firefighters in Nevada.

After many years have passed since the last game was played, the PPA and PFFN have gotten together to bring this amazing game back to the city of Las Vegas. Both teams are playing for their respective charities. The winner of the game gets a 60% share of proceeds raised, while the loser will get 40% (better known as fire’s cut). We are also playing for the Children’s Heart Foundation. This group has been a major contributor in helping children who have heart ailments or defects go on to lead great lives. Through P# 12897 this process, I have been fortunate enough to learn that we have several officers on our agency whose children have taken part in the treatments from the Children’s Heart Foundation.

The PPA and PFFN have gotten together to bring this amazing game back.

The LVMPD team is composed of some extremely talented people. Experience ranges from NFL to semi-pro, arena, Division I college, Division II college and high school football. I have had the privilege of watching our team practice, and it is no wonder that all the oddsmakers have made our team a 35-point favorite to win this game. 

The goal for the game is to raise money for our charities and have an amazing time at the event, coupled with some very good football. To get involved, go to LVPPA.com and purchase tickets. We want to pack the stands at Bonanza High School for this game and bring awareness to our charities. We also have a 50/50 cash raffle, which will take place at halftime (winner need not be present). We will be selling commemorative T-shirts for the game as well. Bonanza High School will be selling great food for concessions, and we will even have a shaved ice/Dole Whip station. The first thousand people to attend will be given a commemorative item to remember this amazing event.