Thank goodness we are almost to the end of 2020. Of course, we should always be thankful for any time we are able to have on the right side of the dirt, but my goodness did this year really drain all of us in law enforcement.
The year started off with a rather uneventful New Year’s Eve. The PPA was out again on the Strip and downtown, supporting our officers with food, hot drinks and energy drinks while they stood guard over all the people in town trying to enjoy the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. As the calendar turned the page, our country, our state and our city were hit with the pandemic. It didn’t matter if you believed in COVID-19 or not; the effects on our city and economy could not have been more real. As we saw the casinos and businesses close their doors, our men and women stood guard over what seemed like a ghost town. A drive down Las Vegas Boulevard from Sahara to Russell and took barely five minutes. Our officers would now begin worrying, not only about armed suspects intent on hurting them, but also about an unknown perpetrator in the form of an illness that could hit without them even knowing. Several officers would get ill and be out of work. Several officers would be exposed and quarantined but eventually return to work. And then the all-too-real death of one of our brothers, Lieutenant Eric Lloyd, would hit us all like a freight train and remind us again that this illness should be taken seriously.
Then came the fears of layoffs, loss of pay and a list of issues for all employees at LVMPD. Through many conversations with Sheriff Lombardo, he pledged that not only would no layoffs happen to the commissioned side, but the department would also continue to honor its contractual commitments and still give our officers their pay raises. We were one of the very few groups that still got a raise during this time. Other groups were losing money or at best taking a zero COLA.
When we thought the worst thing we would deal with was a closed economy, the George Floyd case erupted. Protests, violence and attacks on police ensued. Police officers across the country were working with minimal rest during the protests. Many would be hit with bottles, sticks, rocks, bricks and other weapons. And then, our brother Shay was struck by a bullet while he was out doing his job. A no-good, low-life piece of garbage forever changed that young man and his family’s lives forever. That event also had a deep impact on our agency and agencies across the country.
It was at this point that our own local politicians started looking at law enforcement. But not in a way to help us. Not in a way to hold people more accountable for attacks on police. Rather, a large majority of our politicians were looking at ways to reform police and strip us of our rights that we worked so hard for during the 2019 legislative session. One person in particular, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who championed our added protections in 2019, turned out to be the bill sponsor to strip away almost every protection she helped us get in 2019. I had many members reach and to me and say, “Steve, but you supported these very people who are attacking us now!” I have to acknowledge that we in fact did support a lot of the people who were hell-bent on coming after cops during the special sessions. During both sessions, the PPA and members of our Public Safety Alliance were in Carson City, trying to do everything we could to stop some of the attacks. In the end, we were able to make it not as bad as it could have been, but far from what we wanted or deserved. After the session, the PPA was committed to holding those very people we supported accountable. We created a political action campaign to target those who turned their backs on us. Our national group, NAPO, our Public Safety Alliance and the PPA put our support behind candidates who would support officers. We endorsed Donald Trump for president, not because he is a Republican, but because he showed tireless support for the men and women who wear the badge. We had long talks with members of the Republican Party about why we hadn’t supported many in the past and how they could get our support by helping us protect the rights and benefits that we have. We believe that the candidates we have endorsed will uphold the values that we in law enforcement hold dear. There were other law enforcement groups that still supported candidates because they were friendly in the past. Even national candidates who signed on to support bills that diminish police officers’ ability to do their jobs were supported by other groups. But PPA and PSAN, I feel, got behind the candidates that we feel best represent our members.
We purchased a bigger, more state-of-the-art, higher-occupancy callout vehicle. This vehicle will be used by the PPA for many, many years to come to keep our officers comfortable and relaxed during a time they need it most. I thank our Board of Directors for supporting you all by making these decisions. I am also pleased to say that, with the full support of the Executive Board and Board of Directors, I will be serving another four-year term as your president. The last four years were an honor that I can never fully express, and to have another four years, with the support I have received, lets me know I am doing something right. Thank you all for believing in my vision for the PPA.
Your Executive Board are the hardest-working people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The PPA is where it is today because of the hard work and tireless dedication of Scott, Yant, Chad, BG, Hamm, John and Dan. Thank you guys for doing everything you do for our members. I also want to recognize David, Kelly, Laura, Roy, Adella and Kayleen. Without the amazing team we have assembled at the PPA, we wouldn’t be able to do half of what we do now. Thank you all as well.
To all our members, I know this was a crazy year and I know there are so many more things that I could have mentioned in this article, but with the holidays approaching, remember to take care of yourselves and your families. Your stress because of the job is shared at home by your loved ones. Remember to spend time with them, and hug and kiss your children. Take your spouse or significant other out for a nice evening. This job will always be here. Crime isn’t going away. But the days you are able to spend with your family will fly by. Take a family vacation and make memories with the ones you love. To my girls, Madison, Annabelle, Sophia and Olivia, I love you more than you will ever know. To my wonderful wife, Tiffany, who puts up with every callout, phone call and political event, as well as the times when I am away from the family for several days, I love you. Also, to all the patrol officers, when a dispatcher sends a message to you that says, “Good morning, have a safe shift,” it is my wife. She is an amazing dispatcher, a great wife and an amazing mom.
Merry Christmas to everyone and have a wonderful new year. Stay safe.