Nevada schools would have to report violent crimes that occur on campus to the main police agency in their communities, under a proposal adopted by the state Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence.
“The problem is, crimes are not getting reported to us,” said Henderson Police Chief Tom Burns, a member of the commission.
Commissioners decided after a day-long hearing May 24 to prepare a bill that would mandate school police or administrators contact local police for assistance in handling violent crimes.
The commission was created by the state Legislature last year in response to the Columbine High School massacre. The May 24 meeting was the last for the commission, whose recommendations will be considered by the Legislature next year.
Phil Gervasi of the Clark County School District Police Officers Association said 10,000 crimes are committed annually on Clark County school campuses. Forty-five percent of them are felonies, he said.
He added that his police “train in the same classrooms” as the Las Vegas police and are professional officers, yet he expressed concern that the recommendation to call local police would mean his officers would be bypassed by school administrators. “They will call Metro directly,” he said.
Las Vegas police Lt. Stan Olsen said after the hearing that police are not trying to imply school officers are less than professional. “But they don’t have the same level of experience that we have,” he said. “We must preserve the crime scenes, get in on the investigation as early as possible. They have felt they could do it by themselves, and sometimes they exceeded their expertise.”
Olsen said local police do not have to respond “when one kid punches another kid and he gets a bloody noise.” But, he said, school police and administrators know the kind of incidents for which the primary police agency should be notified.