The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the NAACP of Las Vegas on Friday submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Justice calling for the federal department to conduct a “patterns and practices” investigation of the Metropolitan Las Vegas Police Department.

The petition requests that the U.S. Department of Justice, after conducting its investigation, establish for Metro an independent monitor, who would write periodic reports that would “generate actual modifications and increase public confidence that real change has been effected.” The petition also requests that the Department of Justice work with Metro to:

  • “develop and implement a new policy on the use of deadly force, modeled after polices in place in Portland, Los Angeles and New York City.”
  • “require the Use of Force Board [Metro’s] to permit the participation of the independent monitor….”
  • “Require that the District Attorney conduct a thorough independent criminal review and investigation of any officer-involved shooting….”
  • “Require that LVMPD collect, track, and publicly & regularly disclose statistical data breaking down officer-involved shootings….”
  • “Require rigorous cultural and racial awareness training for officers, so that they may better address situations where an individual’s erratic behavior is attributable to his or her mental health challenges, and respond with deescalation techniques….”
  • “Require that LVMPD implement a mandatory foot pursuit policy that limits foot pursuit to the standards set by the International Association of Chiefs of Police….”
  • “And any, and all, other remedies the DOJ deems appropriate to reform the practices of the LVMPD.”

The petition’s overall complaint, “LVMPD is beset with serious systemic and training problems,” is detailed with specific allegations, which are in turn supported by substantial evidence in court records and rulings, LVMPD policies, ACLU of Nevada files, a Nevada Attorney General opinion, a Nevada Law Review article, news media coverage, and other sources. The specific allegations are:

  • “recurring, documented instances of violent and often fatal treatment of people who come in contact with the police, through both the intentional use of deadly force, excessive force and/or through negligent actions;
  • “false arrests and stops made without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, much less probable cause, along with improper searches, malicious prosecutions, and other corrupt practices;
  • “an ineffective process for identifying and deterring such conduct;
  • “insufficient processes for receiving, handling, adjudicating, and announcing the dis-position of complaints alleging misconduct or violation of rules, or the excessive use of force;
  • “the failure to have a complete set of modern and meaningful polices, practices or training procedures that effectively prevent the excessive use of force;
  • “the failure to supervise and train officers in association with the use of deadly force;
  • “deliberate indifference to the Constitutional rights of persons with whom the police come into contact;
  • “costly litigation expenses including verdicts, arbitrations, and settlements, together with the expenses of defending these cases: since 1991, the Las Vegas police have paid $18 million to settle various property damage, excessive force and wrongful arrest claims (LVMPD fiscal affairs committee). At the same time, lawsuits and citizen complaints reveal continuing patterns of misbehavior, as if nothing has been corrected in response to prior lawsuits or complaints.”

“We hope that the U.S. Department of Justice acts on this petition with all due haste, be-cause the citizens of the Las Vegas metropolitan area have been waiting, in vain, a long time for reform and accountability while Clark County police have killed 142 persons in 378 separate shootings since 1990,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada. “At the same time, the ACLU of Nevada is closely and continuously working with Metro and the NAACP of Las Vegas on seeing that necessary reforms are made by Metro and the District Attorney’s office before the U.S. Justice Department finishes any investigation.”

Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada, said, “What our petition makes clear is that Metro has not been held accountable, nor made sufficient reforms, because every party that could have made a difference has dropped the ball: Metro itself, its Use of Force Board, the Clark County Citizen Review Board, the Clark County Coroner’s inquest process, the Clark County District Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, the Nevada State Legislature, the Nevada Attorney General’s office, Nevada courts, even the news media. It’s way past time for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and help fix Metro.”

The ACLU of Nevada and the NAACP of Las Vegas separately and independently announced on Dec. 14, 2011, that each organization would call for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

More information is available from Staci Pratt, 702-366-1226 and

Additional Resources

- ACLU of Nevada and NAACP Las Vegas petition to the U.S. Department of Justice
- "ACLU Calls for Investigation of Metro by Justice Department"