By COLTON LOCHHEAD and NICK ROBERTSON, Las Vegas Overview-Journal
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Flanked by Clark County’s prime cop, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, former President Donald Trump known as Nevada a “cesspool of crime” throughout an endorsement speech in Las Vegas eight days in the past.
However the numbers don’t again up his assertion.
Trump was on the Strip for a marketing campaign occasion on behalf of Republican candidates Lombardo, who’s operating for governor, and former state Legal professional Common Adam Laxalt, who’s operating for U.S. Senate.
The occasion targeted on regulation enforcement coverage, and far of Trump’s speech centered on characterizing Nevada, and the nation, as in shambles.”
“We’re a nation in decline,” Trump stated, the Las Vegas Overview-Journal reported Wednesday. “We’re a failing nation. … All of the whereas the streets are full of the blood of harmless crime victims. … If we’re going to make America nice once more, our first job is to make America secure once more.”
Trump, talking simply toes away from the state’s former prime prosecutor in Laxalt and present Las Vegas-area regulation enforcement chief, Lombardo, painted an image of a crime-riddled Silver State for the conservative crowd.
The talk is commonly framed by politicians as a red-versus-blue state difficulty, with Republicans making an attempt to hyperlink rising crime to Democrat-led jurisdictions. However crime knowledge present a lot broader tendencies throughout the nation.
Regardless of what the previous president stated, the speed of violent and property crime in Clark County has gone down virtually yearly since 2015.
Crime bottomed out in 2020 as a result of pandemic and elevated in 2021, the primary 12 months that general crime numbers elevated since 2015 in Clark County, in response to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Division knowledge.
Lombardo was fast to brag that crime charges have gone down general since he grew to become sheriff in 2015, however he blamed a current uptick in crime on Democrats within the Legislature and nationally.
The quantity of violent and property crime in Clark County did enhance between 2020 and 2021 — from about 47,700 situations to 50,800. However the 2021 mark remains to be considerably decrease than 2019 crime whole of about 55,000 occasions, in response to division knowledge.
Lombardo is true about county crime tendencies — whole crime has fallen by virtually 17% between 2015 and 2021 — however solely after a pointy enhance in violent crime in 2017 and 2018. Throughout these two years, violent crime rose to about 10,000 situations per 12 months earlier than falling to about 8,000 situations per 12 months in 2021.
The place the sheriff is laying the blame is extra questionable.
As he has all through the GOP main marketing campaign, Lombardo blamed the current enhance in crime on legal justice reforms authorised by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, particularly Meeting Invoice 236 of the 2019 session.
That invoice got here collectively as a part of a prolonged examination of Nevada’s sentencing requirements that began beneath former Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican. It sought to scale back the speed at which individuals return to jail with a view to decrease spending on incarceration.
Amongst different modifications, the invoice raised the set off for a felony theft cost from $650 to $1,200 and elevated the burden of medicine for an individual to be charged with felony trafficking.
Felony theft thresholds differ closely by state. In New Jersey, something over $200 may land an individual in jail for at the very least a 12 months. In Texas, it’s $2,500.
The ultimate model of the Nevada regulation obtained bipartisan assist and handed within the state Senate on a 19-2 vote, with six of eight Republican senators voting in favor.
Lombardo’s division didn’t oppose the measure, as a substitute testifying as impartial on the laws in its ultimate kind earlier than the invoice was signed into regulation by Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Democrat who Lombardo seeks to unseat.
Lombardo informed the Overview-Journal in Might that the division was impartial on the invoice “within the spirit of compromise.”
A number of conservative teams had been publicly in favor of the laws, together with the American Conservative Union, Religion and Freedom Coalition, Proper on Crime and others, in response to a letter despatched to Republican lawmakers in 2019 that was obtained by the Overview-Journal.
“The invoice was a recognition that indiscriminately locking folks up does little to make sure public security in our communities,” stated Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, the invoice’s predominant sponsor, in an interview with the newspaper.
Throughout the July 8 panel with Trump, Lombardo claimed Democrats modified a regulation to make it in order that officers aren’t capable of arrest folks for misdemeanor crimes.
His marketing campaign stated in a follow-up e-mail that Lombardo was referring to modifications made beneath Meeting Invoice 440 of the 2021 Legislature. That invoice specified that individuals accused of first-time, non-violent misdemeanors could be cited as a substitute of arrested.
Regardless of Lombardo’s feedback, nonetheless, general arrests have nonetheless elevated. The division’s statistics present crime elevated by 6% from 2020 to 2021, and whole arrests elevated by 4.5% in the identical time-frame.
Lombardo additionally stated folks can get away with stealing a automobile and they aren’t held accountable until they steal a second automobile.
State regulation says convictions for stealing a automobile, known as grand larceny of a motorized vehicle, are a class C felony for the primary offense and carry a potential sentence of 1 to 4 years. Subsequent convictions are class B felonies, with a potential sentence of 1 to 6 years.
Previous to AB236, the worth of the automobile stolen decided whether or not it was a class B or C felony.
Lombardo’s marketing campaign stated that he was talking a couple of “recurring state of affairs at (the police division), the place it’s troublesome to cost and convict a person with grand larceny of a motorized vehicle.”
Lombardo’s complaints with the modifications appear to middle extra on the trial course of. His marketing campaign stated in an e-mail that the modifications to the motorized vehicle theft regulation enable for first-time offenders to get credit score for good habits, which may scale back their sentence.
FOLLOWING NATIONAL TRENDS
Crime knowledge in Clark County intently mirrors tendencies seen in different main metropolitan areas, in response to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at College of Missouri-St. Louis. Violent crime went up in 2020 and dipped in 2021, whereas property crime dipped in 2020 as companies had been shut down in the course of the pandemic, and people crimes have began to development upwards since 2021.
Rosenfeld stated the present nationwide surge in crime is intently linked to rising inflation greater than the rest.
“Once you see inflation go up, you are inclined to see crime go up,” he stated. “As costs rise, the lure of cheaper, stolen items rise.”
Cities and jurisdictions which have embraced legal justice reforms to scale back jail populations, similar to these in AB236, haven’t seen crime charges go up at any quicker price as different jurisdictions, Rosenfeld added.
“The truth that Las Vegas’ patterns are following so intently to nationwide patterns actually recommend that the legal justice reform argument is a weak one,” Rosenfeld stated. “What you’ve been listening to is political rhetoric. And political rhetoric is commonly unhinged from any systematic proof.”
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