Former Metro Police Sheriff Bill Young says that poor training and a lack of discipline has led to a number of police shootings in Las Vegas that might have been prevented. And if he were still in charge, he says, he wouldn’t be afraid to take the police union on in court.
Those are strong words coming from anyone, especially Young, who was a lifelong police officer before serving as Metro’s sheriff from 2002-2006. Today, he works for Station Casinos and is a civilian for the first time in his professional life.
Young’s also has questions about the most recent Las Vegas Metro police shooting of Gulf War Veteran Stanley Gibson.
“It appears that this shooting has some problems," he says, one of which was that Gibson was unarmed when he was shot and killed. "My biggest concern at this point...were all the resources called into play that could've been?"
"Time is always on your side when you have a situation where you have an individual who is barricaded,” he says, adding that from reports, it appears Gibson was sitting in an unmoving vehicle when the shooting occurred. "From where I sit today, this doesn't seem to be the most prudent course of action.”
“I think the [Sheriff Doug Gillespie] needs to question why the officer had a long-gun or a rifle in this kind of situation," Young says, adding that rifles should only be used in specific situations. This, he says, was certainly not one of them.
Young says that part of the problem with Metro is the attitude of the police union. They view this situation as an “Us vs. Them” situation, and it’s not, he says.
“"I think that the police union looks at this from a completely different perspective,” Young says. “ I don't think they get it. I don't think they get this community.”
As a city employee, Young says, it’s any policeman’s job to be accountable to the public for his or her actions. "I think you owe them to answer questions about your performance at work."
Young added that the inquest system has been “blown up” by the union, and so will likely never be used again in Clark County.
So far this year, 12 people have died in police shootings. That’s 12 more than there ever should be, Young says.
“95 percent of our officers have never shot their weapon in the line of duty. They have the courage to stand in the line and not overreact,” he says, adding that the idea that all shootings are bad is as untrue as the fact that all shootings are good.
"The current sheriff is a good leader and he will respond to this,” Young says.
Bill Young, Metro Police Sheriff, 2002-2006