SURGE IN SIN CITY
VIOLENT CRIMES SPIKE IN VEGAS
AS CALI’S EX-CONS SEE IT AS OPEN SEASON
By Jack Wellington
It was only a little over a decade ago when the beautiful lights of Las Vegas shone brightly with little to almost no violent criminal activity reported on its television news stations each night. Those innocent times are sadly gone now—with waves of violent crime swelling over the city in record numbers.
Home invasions, armed robberies, shootings, hostages, sexual assaults and so many more violent acts have become much more commonplace in Vegas than what first began of this millennium.
The rate of homocides in Sin City are up from last year’s count of 22 to 38 deaths (a whopping 73% increase) with overall violent crimes of murder, robbery and sexual assault up by 22%.
It’s not just Vegas. There was a significant increase in crime in over 30 cities across the nation last year, due to gangs and a heroin epidemic that has been growing across the nation. Yet, even though Vegas ranked third in its increase of killings (below Chicago and Dallas), a shocking statistic of an 81.8 percent increase in homocides which occurred during the first three months of 2015 put Sin City above both those two very dangerous cities.
Some folks claim it’s simply a “sign of the times,” blaming the spike of crime on the ramifications of the nation’s recession, while others point to the increased violence to be caused by the lack of fear and respect for our police departments across the nation. But leaders in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department know differently. Here in Vegas, the immoral surge of crime is a bit more unique.
According to Las Vegas Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, Vegas has become a new criminal territory for California’s ex-convicts since the state’s 2014 initiative (Proposition 47) released some convicts early. The proposition allowed a recategorizing of some of the non-violent felony offenses, turning them into misdemeanors, then the program continued in 2015 with a realignment, which transferred some of the inmates from state prisons to county jails, and even releasing some inmates early. Vegas is but a short, few-hour drive to a new land of milk and honey for many who come from California, and unfortunately, for ex-cons, too.
McMahill has seen an “influx” ever since the jail doors were opened, with rashes of arrests of California’s ex-convicts for violent charges like robbery, shooting and homocide here in Vegas.
“I think some of this Proposition 47 stuff where they released a significant number of people in California is part of it. We have seen a significant increase in the number of folks we contact in our gang area who come from California,” McMahill described.
And Sin City alludes to all that is salacious, especially with its “What Happens in Vegas…” slogan that echoes across the globe, eliciting an adult candy-land of pleasure.
“In particular, what stands out to me is we’re seeing a lot of people from the Oakland area,” he explained. “Sometimes maybe it’s people looking for a fresh start and they come here and they’re right back involved in the same type of activity they may have been released from previously.”
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s stance is similar to McMahill’s, saying that the increase in violence in the Valley is due to an inflx of gang members from Southern California, as well as the recent de-population of all U.S. prisons., and most especially California’s.
As part of the financial rationing since the economic downturn, Vegas Metro has been operating with 500 less officers (that’s 1.7 cops per 1,000 residents, when the national average is 2.18 per 1,000).
To combat the criminal increase, Vegas Metro has added manpower by suiting up their undercover cops and investigators and putting them on patrol duty to create a stronger front. This is a band-aid that’s gonna really smart when pulled off. After a brief period of time, the bigger picture may surface with crime leaders getting off scot-free from criminal charges that had to be put-off due to investigators being taken off their cases.
In the meantime, more cops are expected to be on the way, as Clark County’s January sales tax began the funding of the “more cops” collection, with some 350 more police officers to be put in place. “In place” is the doomed phrase of the moment—as police recruitment has become increasingly more difficult nationwide, with the lack of respect shown to the honorable occupation of police officers as of late.
McMahill says: “Relief is on the way—but we’ve got a period of time before that’s actually going to happen.”