The Endorsement for Sheriff

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas

At the time of this writing, two candidates are running for Clark County Sheriff: Joe Lombardo and Tim Bedwell. Again, understand that this article was written around the middle of February and no other candidates were listed. Having said that, I want our membership to know what the process is for this race and my feelings on this race.

Our LVPPA bylaws, under Article 27.02, state:

Sheriff endorsement surveys:

  1. For the purposes of an election for the office of Sheriff (and only the office of Sheriff), balloting will be done in order to ascertain which candidate for Sheriff the membership is interested in endorsing. If a minimum of 51% of all those eligible to vote do so, the candidate receiving the majority of votes will be endorsed by the Association for the office of Sheriff.
  2. All dues-paying members in the bargaining unit covered by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association – Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Collective Bargaining Agreement may vote on the potential endorsement of a candidate for sheriff.

I would like all of our membership to be thinking about who you would like to see running our agency. Our support of a candidate is extremely strong in the political world and means a lot to the candidates. From governor to candidates for small local offices, everyone involved in politics wants the support of the PPA. When this survey goes out, it is one of the most important surveys you will ever take part in, aside from your contract.

Now that you know the way the endorsement process for this office goes, I would like to give my two cents on this topic. Let me start by saying that before joining the Executive Board, I never had many dealings with Joe Lombardo. He was my chief when I was in Narcotics. I never worked directly for him or got to know him. When he first took office, I had just come to the Executive Board and wanted to do a “get to know the Sheriff” article. I sat down with Joe and asked him about his plans for the future of the LVMPD. It was no secret that Joe and the LVPPA were not on the greatest of terms during and after the election. I have found out some of the reasons why Joe was so upset, and I would probably be a little upset, too, on some topics. But Joe did the interview with me like a professional and gave candid responses to some tough questions.

Fast-forward to my becoming president of the LVPPA in the summer of 2016. It’s no secret we probably still were not on good working terms. One of my goals was to bridge that gap between Joe and the PPA because of the advantages a good working relationship could have for our members. Joe and I pretty quickly fixed that relationship with some mutual trust and respect of each other’s positions as leaders of our organizations. Through conversations with Joe, I can tell you I have saved at least eight officers’ jobs. These cases had been recommended for termination by Labor and other executive staff members. Joe and I kept these people employed. Other cases of discipline have been reduced specifically by Joe himself. In one case, which already was rolling as an SOC, our officer would have received a suspension at minimum because of prior discipline. But Joe gave the officer a “butt chewing” and considered it settled.

Our members had issues at CCDC, including coffeepots and microwaves. Scott and I met heavy resistance from Suey and Fasulo on this topic and they refused to remove these tools. Sheriff Lombardo eventually had all of them removed. He was receptive when Scott and I asked for Chief Forbus to succeed Suey, and now Chief Forbus is running the jail. I am positive more than our conversation about Forbus went into this decision but, in the end, our members benefited from it.

I also have to give credit to Sheriff Lombardo for assisting me and standing by our officers during the horrible Michael Bennett accusation case. From the morning that allegation came forward, Sheriff Lombardo and I frequently spoke to each other about the case. Never once did Joe waver from supporting our wrongly accused officers. While Joe can’t be as direct as I can be in the media, he made it clear our officers acted appropriately and within policy and training and that no discipline would fall on the officers. I am quite certain that had Bennett himself actually filed an IAB complaint, the Sheriff would have recommended bringing charges against Bennett. And Sheriff Lombardo was largely responsible for moving to charge anyone who files a false complaint against an officer when the BWC proved it to be blatantly false.

The last example I would mention is the October 1 shooting. Sheriff Lombardo was out in front of the cameras more frequently than probably any head of any organization across the country would have been. He updated the citizens as often as possible about the heroic actions of the officers of the LVMPD and what was occurring. Sheriff Lombardo and I again were in constant contact, making sure all of our people were taken care of and doing OK. This was evident from other union members from places like NYPD, Florida PBA and other members associated with the National Association of Police Organizations. They applauded how LVMPD and Sheriff Lombardo handled this tough situation.

I wanted to give some facts about my dealings with Sheriff Lombardo. As I am sure, plenty of our officers have never really had any interactions with the Sheriff, and I feel my perspective is important on this issue. As for Tim Bedwell, I have never met him or spoken to him. I do know, at this point, no external candidate has spoken to me about the Sheriff’s race. For me, as your President, I would rather deal with the Sheriff I know rather than the one I don’t. Understand, whether it’s Joe Lombardo, Tim Bedwell or anyone else, when the Department oversteps its authority or does things not in the best interest of our membership, I’ll be the first one there launching a lawsuit or EMRB complaint, as I have done the last year and a half. Our membership deserves that type of representation and that is exactly what you all will get. We have never been more aggressive in those areas in LVPPA’s history. Even with all the cases we have filed, I still believe I have a good working relationship with Sheriff Lombardo and sometimes the legal avenue is the only way we can settle things. But we both come back to the table the next day to talk and work out the next issue.

At the end of the day, though, the choice for Sheriff is yours. If the membership comes in with a vote for any candidate or, possibly, no candidate at all, I will 100% support that decision.

Please feel free to call me with questions or concerns on this or any other topic. Stay safe!