LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The fallout continues after a higher-up within the North Las Vegas Police department was arrested on DUI charges. The department’s assistant chief, Clinton Ryan, was taken into custody Sunday night.
“My whole family was nearly annihilated by a drinking driver,” said Sandy Heverly, the executive director and victim advocate for STOP DUI.
Heverly lost her mother in a DUI crash more than 30 years ago, now she works with Stop DUI to help local law enforcement educate the public and keep them aware of the dangers of driving under the influence.
“We’re there just to support them in any way that we can,” Heverly said.
For Heverly, North Las Vegas Police’s latest DUI arrest involving its own assistant police chief has left her feeling a little disheartened. Especially, given recent efforts to stop impaired driving across the Las Vegas valley.
The DUI strike team has made around 800 arrests since October.
“Here we are with all of these awareness and education programs, and someone who has been directly exposed in terms of seeing the carnage that can happen,” Heverly said. “It just casts such a terrible shadow on all of the law enforcement officers that worked so hard.”
NHP says Ryan was driving recklessly in a pickup truck that was towing a horse trailer Sunday night, near Tropicana and U.S. 95 north. Ryan now faces a first-time DUI charge.
The city of North Las Vegas says this is Ryan’s first issue in his 22-year career with the police department where he also once served as a traffic officer. He’s been placed on paid administrative leave while police conduct an internal affairs investigation.
“If people in that position don’t get the message, what are we supposed to do,” Heverly asked?
Erin Breen with UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project says Ryan’s arrest might actually serve as a deterrent.
“It makes it even more evident that it can happen to anyone, and I think that an awful lot of people think, ‘well, I’ve driven home when I shouldn’t have, so why would I get caught now,'” said Breen.
When it comes to Ryan’s job, Heverly does not think he should get to keep it. Heverly believes Ryan should not get his job back.
“He’s made his bed, now he has to lie in it,” Heverly said.
In addition to the first-time DUI, Ryan faces charges of having an open container of alcohol and failing to stay in his travel lane.