August 28, 2011

The Erik Scott Case, Update 15: Metro Pats Itself On The Back

The local Las Vegas media have, upon occasion, reported on the Scott case, but have done relatively little in-depth reporting on the anomalies reported here, and have generally been very respectful of Metro. However, the Las Vegas Tribune has not been reluctant to take Metro on, regarding the Scott case or any other case, and there are many.
Following are links to the articles referenced in this update:

(1) For the LV Tribune story titled "Metro's Top Brass Running For Cover," go here.

(2) For the LV Tribune story titled "Retirees Expose Metro's Dirty Underwear," go here.

(3) For the August 15 Las Vegas Review-Journal story on Metro's accreditation honors, go here.

(4) For the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement's website, go here.


According to the LVT, all of the assistant Sheriffs on the force will soon be retiring and will not be replaced. Apparently Metro is not denying this report, nor is it supplying any reason why this is occurring at this particular point in time. Suffice it to say that it is highly unusual for any police force to lose any group of its highest-ranking officers at the same time for any reason. For none of them to be replaced is equally unusual. The LVT speculates that the assistant Sheriffs may, seeing the handwriting on the wall, be deserting what they see as a sinking ship, and lists a wide variety of scandals and cover ups—the Scott case being one—as potential reasons. If this report turns out to be accurate, it would be worthwhile for Las Vegas citizens to ask what such highly-paid officers did for so many years, and why their duties were apparently so ephemeral that no replacements were required.

Also according to the LVT, " Retirees and soon-to-be retirees have contacted the Tribune to reveal and expose some of the 'dirty secrets' that have plagued Metro Police Administration for years." While the article does not go into specifics of individual cases, it provides an extensive list of the kinds of corruption that these retirees and soon-to-be retirees have apparently revealed. Suffice it to say that the list suggests not only corruption, but serial felony crimes potentially sufficient to devastate the ranks of Metro and bankrupt Las Vegas (in the lawsuits that would surely result) should they be investigated and prosecuted by outside agencies.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports, and certainly don't know the specifics of what the LVT has, but their articles make for interesting reading and certainly support at least some of the information I've been collecting in investigating the Scott case. Take the links and see for yourself.


Readers and others have speculated on the involvement, or non-involvement of federal law enforcement agencies in the Scott case and other potential cases of Metro corruption. It should be remembered that an apparent lack of federal involvement does not mean that agencies such as the FBI are not involved. The FBI and most other federal agencies, by policy, do not reveal ongoing investigations unless they are ready to make arrests and begin prosecution. In the investigation process, they often prefer to be very much under the radar. In the case of Metro, such investigation—if it has begun—will almost certainly take months, perhaps years, and involve a great many potential targets.

It is possible that no federal agencies are involved. I've noted before that Mr. Obama would be unlikely to want to embarrass Senator Harry Reid. However, I would not be in the least surprised to learn that they are, and have been watching the Scott—and other cases—for some time.

According to the Review-Journal, on August 12, Metro announced that it had been awarded "Accreditation with Excellence" honors by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement. "A department press release said the organization looks at several categories, including whether an agency is forward-thinking, addresses crime problems before they occur, uses the best hiring practices and police tactics, and routinely does self-assessments," noted the RJ.
It is unsurprising that Sheriff Gillespie would use this ploy, which is superficially impressive to those unaware of the reality of law enforcement accreditation. No doubt, Sheriff Gillespie's self assessments of Sheriff Gillespie reveal that Sheriff Gillespie is excellent. I worked in an accredited LEA for many years, and apart from the dubious benefit of a CALEA emblem on our nametags and patrol vehicles, saw no benefit whatsoever for working cops.

The CALEA website markets their services under the heading "Accreditation Works," as follows:

"* Agencies can realize the following rewards of CALEA Accreditation:

* Comprehensive, well thought-out written directives,

* Reports and analyses to make informed management decisions,

* Preparedness Program in place,

* Improved relationship with the community,

* Strengthen agency’s accountability,

* Limit liability and risk exposure, and

* Assists in agency’s pursuit of excellence.

AccreditationWorks! is a compilation of articles that appear regularly in the CALEA® Update magazine, which is published three times a year. These accounts are first-hand testimonies of how CALEA Accreditation has benefited these agencies and their communities. The articles provide insight into the impact of accreditation and offer examples that may be useful to anyone interested in the accreditation process or wants to know, 'What will Accreditation do for me?'”

The CALEA is a private, for profit organization accountable only to itself, and its services are not cheap. On the surface, any law enforcement agency wishing to become accredited must participate in a rigorous, five step review process, which includes:

"* Enrollment

* Self-Assessment

* On-Site Assessment

* Commission Review and Decision

* Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation"

Ostensibly, agencies, once accredited, have attained highly professional status, status that will not only make lawsuits unlikely, but will make it much easier for an agency to defend such suits. These supposed benefits do not come cheaply, nor do the payments ever end.

In essence, Accreditation is a paperwork review process. Accredited agencies must have certain minimum written procedures and policies in place. During the self-assessment phase, an applying agency receives the specifics of what is necessary and works to alter—or in some cases adopt for the first time—the policies and rules CALEA mandates. These range from rules for the maintenance of records, the use of force, diversity standards, hiring practices, and everything else relating to running a law enforcement agency.

When the agency believes it is ready, a team of CALEA officials, usually police executives and academics from around the nation, comes to their community for an on-site review. Among the things these teams do is to interview officers and hold community meetings to hear complaints and congratulations. In the accredited agency where I worked, only hand-picked officers were interviewed, and everyone knew that the slightest negative comment would result in consequences. The police administration went to great lengths to pack public hearings with favorable tales from grateful citizens.

The report of the on-site team is considered by the Commission, and if accreditation is granted, it is granted for three years, during which the update and reaccreditation process—accompanied by significant fees to the CALEA—continues for another three year accreditation cycle. Regarding this cycle, the CALEA website notes:

"Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation:

During its three-year accreditation award cycle, the agency must maintain compliance with applicable standards, keep its proofs of compliance up-to-date, and live by the letter and spirit of those standards. To retain its accredited status, the agency is required to submit to CALEA their appropriate accreditation continuation fees, as well as an annual report. Reaccreditation occurs at the end of the three years, following another successful on-site assessment and hearing before the Commission."

On one hand, if an agency is already professional and honest, and determined to live by those values, Accreditation might be considered to be a feather in its cap, an expensive feather, but a feather nonetheless. Theoretically, the process might improve, in at least some subtle ways, the agency's policies and procedures, and it is at least possible that a side benefit of this might be making it easier to defend against lawsuits. However, if the agency is professional and honest, such effect, to whatever degree it might exist, will likely exist whether the agency is accredited or not, and at much less cost in cash and the man hours necessary to comply with all of the paperwork required by the CALEA.

The problem with accreditation is that it is primarily a paperwork certification, and while the CALEA says that agencies must live by the "letter and spirit" of its standards, it is not difficult for a corrupt agency to keep evidence of failing to meet such standards in practice—rather than on paper—from the CALEA. There is, in addition, a very real financial incentive for the CALEA not to be, should we say, excessively aggressive in their investigations, to whatever degree they are done.

Am I saying that the CALEA would knowingly certify agencies they know are ineligible under their standards? I have no such knowledge and make no such specific assertion. I suggest only that because the CALEA is a private, for profit organization, that it is in its best interests to keep long time clients on the accreditation list, for their fees pay the salaries of all involved and allow various law enforcement administrators and others to travel at CALEA's expense as "experts."

From what is commonly known about Metro and its operations, it would seem that it is easy indeed for a corrupt agency to comply with the CALEA, indeed, even to achieve, according to Metro, its highest honors. So while Metro might appear to be hell on wheels on paper, the incompetence, abuse and lack of professionalism so apparent in the Scott case is day to day reality, and this reality apparently means little to the CALEA. The alternative is that the CALEA is simply not set up to discover and investigate such things, which is likely the case.


While accreditation might be a worthwhile option for an agency flush with cash seeking help in updating its policies and procedures, it is not by itself an absolute indicator of honor, honesty and professionalism in practice. The day-to-day reality of Metro would seem a convincing proof of that assertion. In the matter of police tactics and hiring practices alone, I suspect relatively few knowledgeable citizens of Las Vegas would consider Metro to be a model of professionalism. The CALEA provides, as noted earlier, a periodical designed to prove the value of accreditation to those already accredited, essentially preaching to the choir.

Once a police executive has convinced his city council or county commissioners to fork over the substantial, continuing sums of money necessary for accreditation, it is unlikely that he will be anxious to simply say "oops! I guess I was wrong about the whole thing. Sorry about wasting all that time and money!" I'm not suggesting evil intent on anyone's part, merely making pertinent notes about human nature and its workings in law enforcement agencies.

It is also quite possible for non-accredited agencies to be entirely professional and to never experience the kinds of abuses that seem to be the rule rather than the exception at Metro. I know many such agencies. As I mentioned in the beginning of this section, my experience with accreditation revealed no obvious benefit whatever for working cops or for the community. My chief labored mightily to convince officers and the public of the wonders and never-ending benefits of accreditation. To this day, having seen no tangible benefits, I remain unconvinced and I suspect the community I served does as well.


The next update--perhaps series of updates—will focus on the statements, written and recorded, of citizen witnesses to the Scott shooting. I hope to have it completed in the near future; there are a great many documents and much to analyze.

As always, I very much appreciate our readers and their comments relating to this ongoing case.

Posted by MikeM at August 28, 2011 10:43 PM

Well, it is clear from this that you know nothing about federal law enforcement, much less civil rights violations investigations.

If you did, you would know that the Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys direct said investigations and are very hands on, participating in all significant investigative activity, especially interviews.

I can state catagorically that CRD and the FBI are not investigating the Erik Scott shooting. Not because of Obama not trying to embarrass Reid, as if you recall Reid was just re-elected, so a scandal at LVMPD would have zero political impact on Reid, but because there is nothing to investigate.

Remember, it is you who accused Costco of deliberately distorting the report about Scott that brought the police. And, as you must recall, Costco has been dropped from the Scott civil suit. So much for your predictive ability.

Now, back to CRD and the FBI. If they were investigating, the LVPPA would know, as members, including the mysterious sergeant, would have been contacted for interviews. I am certain that would have leaked out.

So, you might be hoping for a Deus Ex Machina to rescue your giant conspiracy theory, sorry to let you down, but it ain't happening.

Your increasing desparation is only compounded by the rather unsupported litany of allegations from the LV Tribune. Lots of innuendo, but no facts.

It is clear that the Sheriff is doing what a good bureaucrat does in hard times, triming the fat, the fat being Assistant Sheriffs, or do you mean Under Sheriffs?

The LV Tribune appears to be engaging in baseless conjecture, much like your theory(ies) on the Scott shooting.

However, all you need to do is go back to Scott's bad decision making process by mixing drugs and guns. The two don't mix as decisions made under the influence can get you killed. Which actually happened. Sort of like windsurfing during a hurricane.

Posted by: Federale at August 29, 2011 02:18 PM

Everything you need to know about CALEA can be found at the following link.

Posted by: Cybrludite at August 31, 2011 07:40 AM