LAS VEGAS -- Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said his department needs more officers to get a handle on the crime rate that continues to climb. The sheriff wrote a letter to Clark County leaders again, asking for cooperation to reduce violent crime.
The letter was delivered last week, before the most recent officer-involved shootings.
Sheriff Gillespie shared his concerns, citing the homicide rate that is up nearly 20 percent from last year along with violent crimes rising.
One county leader said the solution is more cops on the street. They just have to figure out how to make that happen.
County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak was one of the recipients of the letter. He says the sheriff has sent a letter about once a month regarding Metro's resources and lack of manpower. The sheriff says there is a direct link between fewer officers and more violent crime.
"We share the same concerns when violent crime goes up, but sometimes we are reactive with law enforcement. Law enforcement reacts after there is a crime.You can have more officers to investigate quicker but it is just that society has become a little bit more violent than it was in the past,” Sisolak said.
The head of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Chris Collins says the recent officer-involved shootings and fewer officers on the street could be related. Collins believes more cops could mean fewer shootings.
"The reality is, no officer goes to work wanting to be in an officer-involved shooting. What happens is we confront individuals who force us to make life-and-death decisions based on their actions,” Collins said.
Sisolak says he has offered to work with Metro to balance its budget and find new ways to come up with money without raising the sales tax.
"I think we've done a lot. We've added some officers as a result of the discussion we had. We dipped into the More Cops fund to balance the budget a little bit. His academy is running. He has graduated some and he has more academies planned. I think we will see some more officers on the streets,” Sisolak said.
Sisolak adds the number of officers on valley streets will rise slowly. The sheriff is committed to making sure every possible vacant job is filled and Clark County is safe.
There are about 1.7 officers per 1,000 permanent residents in Clark County, which is down from an all-time high of a little more than two officers per 1,000 residents about five years ago.