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Las Vegas Criminal Defense

Are Any Real Police Reforms Coming To Nevada?


The Nevada legislature passed some pretty extensive police reforms in 2021.  So now, as we wrap up 2022, what’s the status of those reforms?  It’s worthwhile to take a look at the progress—and lack thereof—as we evaluate the progress of policing in the Silver State.

Promised Reforms 

After the murder of George Floyd, states across the country took a hard look at policies related to policing, and many made huge efforts to hold police more accountable. Here in Nevada, several reforms were passed:

  • A statewide public database detailing police use-of-force;
  • Law enforcement agency requirements to create an early warning system in order to identify officers who engage in “problematic” behavior;
  • Department-wide rules requiring officers to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations before resorting to use of force measures, and then using only “objectively reasonable” amounts of force.


The Department of Public Safety didn’t get funding for these projects for over a year, making it pretty difficult to enact meaningful reforms.  And there’s no agency tasked with standard development—so coming up with a uniform policy to flag problem officers was a bit of a hurdle. There was simply no one tasked with defining what a problem officer looks like. As for policies to address use-of force—there’s never been an agency to track who’s doing what, so it’s tough to know which departments enact change and which do not.


So where are we a year later?  Not as far as some may have hoped.  The database? Non-existent. It seems there was too little money or motivation to get that ball rolling. The warning system? Nope.  For the most part, departments report that the guidelines were too fuzzy so they really couldn’t comply.  And de-escalation?  A number of agencies report having de-escalation policies already, meaning the new law had little or no impact. But the truth is, no one really knows for sure.

What was the point of all this critical legislation?  One law sheriff summed it up by saying that it was all just “feel-good” law making—not much more than “fluff and mirrors.” An undersheriff calls the reforms nothing more than a waste of time.  Legislators can claim to have made big reforms without impacting the way law enforcement operates throughout the state.  A win: win for legislators and law enforcement who are happy with the status quo.

Legislative Response 

When asked about the lack of progress on these issues, one legislator washed her hands of responsibility.  The legislature, she says, can make the laws, but it’s up to the public and corresponding law enforcement agencies to take it from there.

When Bad Policing Impacts Citizens 

The problem is that bad policy leads to bad policing, and bad policing with no accountability leads to public harm. Unchecked, that harm is likely to repeat.  At Lobo Law, our passionate Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to preserving the rights of our clients.  If you’ve had a negative encounter with an officer who has acted outside the law or who’s used excessive force, we can help.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.



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