I-Team: Public Trust: UNLV Police Salaries - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Public Trust: UNLV Police Salaries

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LAS VEGAS -- A recent rally at UNLV had it all: chickens for check-ups, protestors by the dozen, a police dog, and the T3 mobile platform. The event ran smoothly. It was just another day on the job for UNLV Police.

Chief Jose Elique is tasked with an unusual job as the university's top cop: protecting 28,000 students over 350 acres. So far, he's been successful. "Our officers are highly visible, accessible," he said. "This has remained an oasis, and we intend to keep it that way."

The UNLV campus only had 61 reported crimes last year. Most of them were burglaries and auto thefts. That is what you might expect for a commuter campus. But, budget documents given to the I-Team show that is almost a one-to-one ratio of personnel to crimes. 61 crimes occurred last year, and 70 people are on the force.

University Board of Regents Chairman James Dean Leavitt, meanwhile, said the 13% cut for higher education is jeopardizing some departments and entire areas of study at UNLV. "These are real, real cuts that we're sustaining now," Leavitt said. "The state right now faces significant revenue challenges."

But as some students are about to get turned away, there is one department that won't see any cuts at all: UNLV Police. "I don't put a price on public safety or protecting the university," Chief Elique said. Elique and UNLV top brass are keeping the police department safe at the same time student worker programs are being eliminated, and staff face layoffs. In fact, Elique wants a bigger budget. "It only takes one event, one major event to justify every single dime that you're paying and maybe a lot of dimes that you should have been paying," he said.

Elique's officers observe one furlough day a month, but he says any more cuts would be wrong. "No. I don't feel that, because, again, what price do you put on the safety of your child or loved one," he asked.

Leavitt and the rest of the board know more budget worries loom. "(They're) going to allow us in the future, if we need to, to cut faculty pay again," he said.

But those on patrol know jobs and pay are safe. "We work 24 hours, seven days a week. We are never, ever off. We're never closed," Chief Elique said, By contrast, Metro Police are taking a 15% overtime cut and a 7% budget cut, reflecting the budget hardships in the city and county.

All this week, the I-Team will be looking at government salaries. We've compiled a comprehensive list from several governments and agencies and you can see it here.

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