5) The Gestapo
The incident that happened to me on my way to the emergency room in March was probably the single largest event that caused me to turn against Las Vegas quickly.
Las Vegas cops are completely out of control.
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Two weeks ago, when I encountered a newly-robbed lady crying in a Smith's parking lot ... it was sort of the last straw.
During the last several months living in Las Vegas, I became paranoid. I wrote a few negative articles about the Metropolitan Police Department, and I knew that I was probably on borrowed time. It's not hard to match a blog post up with a specific incident report, and after my emergency room visit, I figured that the LVMPD had pegged me through license plates and utility bills. They were going to get either myself or my family, and it wasn't a matter of "if", it was a matter of "when".
It also didn't help that the people who lived in my house before me had (allegedly) been drug dealers. We twice got a visit from law enforcement trying to serve an arrest warrant on the previous occupants, and on both occasions we had to present ID to prove that we were not the suspects.
This was going to escalate. I was aware that, in Las Vegas, previous occupants being "bad" guys was more than enough probable cause to bust down my door at any time, and I knew that a member of my family could easily be shot for making a "furtive move". I lived in fear of it. I felt like a Neon Anne Frank.
At the moment, Las Vegas is overstaffed with police due to hiring increases made during the higher-flying days of Vegas, and these officers need to make busts and seizures to fund their operations. Now that tax revenues have dropped, law enforcement has turned to "creative financing" to continue paying salaries. This is the reason that cops are issuing $500 tickets to people rushing to the hospital.
Houses in the valley are being raided left and right (disclaimer: link to Las Vegas Review-Journal article), people are being injured and killed, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is actively encouraging citizens to "report" their neighbors if they see anything out-of-sorts. These "reports" are then taken before a judge who rubber-stamps "ICE Squad" no-knock raids.
I am making no exaggerations when I say that 2010 Las Vegas is a 100% police state. Literally. The police run the town and are able to do whatever they wish with complete impunity. This includes killing people in cold blood.
The Las Vegas Police force is comprised mostly of out-of-town recruits who have no ties to the community whatsoever. Most of them come to Vegas to train so that someday they may be able to join the force of a real city. This makes the LVMPD a de-facto occupation force, and the people of the city are their guinea pigs. Their training tools. Their crash test dummies.
In my opinion, the LVMPD treats the citizens of Las Vegas with the same general mindset that American Troops treat the citizens of Bagdad. With contempt, suspicion, and a low value on their life.
I've had several encounters with Las Vegas police officers during my tenure in the city, and every single encounter was nothing less than unprofessional.
I suppose the arguement could be made that I was the problem, but I think that this is an erroneous assumption. When I am in the presense of police officers, I do the whole "yes sir, no sir" Eddie Haskel routine. I'm as polite and deferential as they come. Also, contrary to popular belief, I don't hate police because I'm a criminal who has been repeatedly busted. I've gotten a couple of tickets, but I've never actually been arrested. I don't dislike cops because they have interfered with my crime sprees. I don't really commit crimes.
Las Vegas cops really are hostile, insecure, severely unintelligent, violent people. Perhaps not all of them, but certainly every one of them that I ever met.
In my opinion, the presence of a police state should be a deal-breaker, and a barrier to any intelligent person even thinking about calling Las Vegas home.
I tried for years to use my own shoe leather to get around, but Las Vegas is just not a walkable city on any level. The blocks are a half mile long, many do not have crosswalks, and both drivers and cops are outwardly hostile toward pedestrians.
For instance, on many occasions, I've seen police set up jaywalking stings on ultra-long blocks that did not have crosswalks. In order for someone to cross the street, they would literally have to walk half a mile to a mile to the next stoplight, and the police knew that these folks would try to dart across the street instead of taking the 10-20 minute detour. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Instead of convincing the city to come out and paint crosswalks for public safety, the LVMPD decided to use poor municipal planning for revenue instead. It's a typical Las Vegas solution to a typical Las Vegas problem.
I've also tried riding my bicycle to get around but here again ... it was not feasible. Most Las Vegas drivers are transplants from suburban or rural areas, and they react with overt hostility at the sight of bicycles. They honk their horns at riders, scream out of windows, throw things, and the whole endeavor is just too dangerous to sustain.
What this means is that the only alternative to automobile transit in Las Vegas is the CAT bus system.
Unfortunately, CAT buses are among the least reliable I have ever ridden. I am not trying to be mean, but the number of wheelchair-bound people that use the bus on a daily basis renders the system useless for all able-bodied people trying to get to work or quack appointments on time.
In addition, when it is 110 degrees outside, waiting at a bus stop is just not something that is possible unless you want to arrive at your destination smelling like Courtney Love's unshaven armpit.
Of course, there is always the monorail, but unless you live near the 3 mile system (less than .1% of the Vegas population), you are similarly out of luck.
Simply put, there exists no dependable method of mass transit in Las Vegas.
This is unforgivable for a metropolitan area of 2 million people.
Check out the other articles of this series: