Commission Questions Sheriff on 'More Cops' Initiative - 8 News NOW

Commission Questions Sheriff on 'More Cops' Initiative

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LAS VEGAS -- Sheriff Doug Gillespie was in the hot seat Tuesday as Clark County commissioners grilled him over the so-called More Cops tax initiative.

It's supposed to help hire more officers, but the question being asked by many is how many of these new officers is the public really going to see?

The sales tax initiative passed in the legislature, but doesn't go into effect until commissioners approve it.

After the sheriff's pitch to them, it doesn't appear the commissioners are convinced just yet that the More Cops tax will translate into significantly more officers on the street.

Gillespie went to bat once again for his department.

"We have to work together to find solutions to this," the sheriff said.

Gillespie is urging the commission to approve the bill, which is expected to generate $30 million in sales tax for the Metro Police department to help hire additional officers.

When asked by Commissioner Steve Sisolak how many new officers the public would actually see in Clark County a year from now, Sisolak was surprised by his answer.

"I don't see us significantly increasing more than that which we have today," Gillespie said.

In response, Sisolak said, "So, there would be no significant increase a year from today?"

Gillespie replied, "No."

According to the sheriff, he needs to fill 22 vacant officers position with the tax revenue first, leaving room to add only about 80 new officers.

With the new police academy only recruiting 47 new officers, it begs the question: Where will the rest of the money go?

"If it just fills the budget hole and that's what the legislature is concerned with and you don't hire police officers, then they are not doing what they are asking us to do," Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said.

The Legislature lifted language in the bill, giving Metro freedom to use the sales tax any way it wants. Some question whether Gillespie will use the tax money to fund things such as the new $20 million radio system. Another system, costing some $40 million, had to be ditched after problems with dropped calls and dead zones.

Gillespie insisted the tax money will only go to new officers, but Giunchigliani said it's clear more questions need to be asked.

"We don't want to be disingenuous to the constituents," Giunchigliani said. "That's why I haven't made a commitment or decision on how I would go with this."

The public will get to have their say on this issue. A public hearing has been scheduled for August 6.

The commissioners can make a decision on whether to pass the sales tax, which will essentially add about a penny to every $10 purchase, as soon as that day.

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