Sales Tax Increase Could Fund More Police, Body Cameras - 8 News NOW

Sales Tax Increase Could Fund More Police, Body Cameras

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada voters approved raising sales taxes by half-a-cent nine years ago to put more police officers on the streets.

Now, law enforcement is ready to take advantage of the so-called more cops initiative again.

If lawmakers approve this sales tax hike, some groups want body cameras on police officers, where their every move and every interaction is recorded.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said more than 500 Metro Police officers are making Las Vegas safer, thanks to money from the 2004 initiative.

"We did what we said we were going to do with the funds, and crime went down," Gillespie said. "Our staffing levels have dropped. Crime is coming back."

Gillespie said crime is up four percent this year alone, and the department, along with the North Las Vegas and Henderson police departments, is concerned that trend will continue unless lawmakers in Carson City enact the second half of the initiative.

"We need this additional quarter-cent to assist us in keeping our staffing levels where they currently are and also to add some additional positions," he said.

That money would be a relief for Metro Police, as it fights a $46 million budget deficit, and more police officers valley-wide would be hired.

But the NAACP has recommended an amendment to this legislation, asking that seven percent of the revenue goes toward body cameras for police officers.

"Help them be better officers on the streets, and help tell the story because we're concerned about all the shootings and use of force that we've had that resulted in death," said Frank Hawkins, president of the Las Vegas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Body cameras open up a new debate, now part of the fiscal fight.

Metro has to present its $500 million budget by the end of April, but lawmakers won't make a final decision on the sales tax hike until after then.

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