I preface this by stating that as the Las Vegas chief of police, as far as I’m concerned, one homicide or one forcible rape in our city is one too many. [Las Vegas police officers] take the safety of our citizens very seriously and that is our priority.
We have planned strategically and have taken several initiatives in 2012 that have affected crime thus far this year. This includes impacting the homicide rate which is currently zero for this year. The Las Vegas Police Department is very successful at identifying and apprehending violent crime/homicide suspects. I’m particularly proud of our high conviction rate in which we are in direct collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office. This speaks to good police work in the field as well as good prosecution.
All of the homicides in 2011 happened inside houses or other domiciles and were either products of domestic violence situations and/or alcohol related. The fact that homicides are not occurring on our streets, parks or other public places speaks a lot in terms of safety for the general public. People aren’t killing each other like the old wild west days.
Although not all the law enforcement agencies in New Mexico are in compliance with mandated federal reporting, the LVPD is. The Department of Justice has cautioned the use of the data from the Uniform Crime Reporting when comparing cities due to the many variables involved and the complex nature of a accurate assessment of crime. They state, “Until all variables that effect crime in a town, county, state or university no meaningful comparison can be made.”
Further, “The American public relies on these data sets for information on the fluctuations in the level of crime from year to year, and criminologists, sociologists, legislators, city planners, the media, and other students of criminal justice use them for a variety of research and planning purposes. Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking the agencies and using the data as a measurement of law enforcement effectiveness.”
I believe the fact that the transient population is not considered in our total population skews the numbers when calculating the per capita crime statistics. Las Vegas is the largest municipality in the county and many people travel here on daily basis to work, shop or conduct other business.
Additionally, the city hosts major events like the 4th of July Fiestas and others that sometimes bring in up to several thousand people in to town. This influx of people certainly contributes to the crime numbers while not being factored into the equation.
Most scholars agree and maintain that there are a multitude of factors contributing to crime in America and in general, however, rest assured that the LVPD will fulfill its duties in combating crime with all due diligence.
Las Vegas Police Chief