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Police Oversight: How Well is it Working in Nevada?


Across America police misconduct has been in the spotlight time and again. Despite countless issues today, it seems there is always a new and horrendous case involving the improper use of force in the news tomorrow. The question is, how are things going in Nevada these days, and, when there are claims of police misconduct, how is the Citizen’s Review Board (CRB) handling it?

CRB for L.V.M.P.D.

The Citizens Review Board for Las Vegas Metro Police Department was established after a fatal shooting occurred in 1997 involving off-duty officers. The mission, according to the CRB website, is to have an “independent civilian oversight agency” examine citizen complaints against L.V.M.PD. officers, as well as the work of internal investigations (IA) done by the department.  It covers a range of complaints, including allegations of excessive force, illegal searches, and myriad other unsatisfactory interactions involving the public. So how effective is the board?

Do Board Decisions Reflect Their Effectiveness? 

One study revealed that complaints made by citizens are nearly always dismissed, and that the board generally agreed with the internal affair’s conclusions. When that occurs, it is rarely challenged. In fact, less than one percent of the 900 cases that were reviewed from 2018 to present were later heard by a panel to weigh whether the internal affairs’ findings were appropriate in response to a complaint of police misconduct.

According to Martha Menendez, who is a senior fellow at the Immigration Clinic at UNLV and who has served on the board, the relationship between the CRB and the police department is much too friendly to be effective.  In her opinion, the pro-cop leanings of board members make it difficult to really hold police accountable.

On the other hand, Erik Pappa, a spokesman for the county, defended the work of the board, saying their work is much more complex than numbers put into columns based on whether they were favorable to the police or not. CRB does tend to agree with IA frequently, but, it is claimed, that’s because of numerous police reforms in recent years, including better training in de-escalation, instituting a Critical Incident Review Team, and more. The evolution of the department has improved officer actions, leading to better, more defensible outcomes.  Still, though, hundreds of civilian complaints come in.

Studies on Citizen Review Board in General 

When it’s all boiled down to the basics, citizen review boards really don’t do much to improve policing, according to one criminal justice expert. That’s because police departments wind up relying instead on the findings of the internal affairs investigations, and  those have the potential to be flawed or biased since the police are in charge of investigating themselves.

No Transparency 

Another issue impacting the ability to hold sworn officers accountable for their actions is the lack of transparency in these investigations.  The fear among police and their unions is that revelations that come out before an investigation is complete could taint the public’s view of officers involved in particular cases.

An Aggressive Criminal Defense 

At Lobo Law in Las Vegas, we know not every arrest follows appropriate protocols, and not every arrestee is guilty.  If you need an aggressive defense, give us a call today.


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