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Police union complaint cites safety of transporting homeless people

Updated May 15, 2021 - 5:10 pm

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association filed a complaint this month against the city of Las Vegas alleging officers are in danger while driving homeless people.

The complaint, filed May 5 through the state Employee-Management Relations Board, was filed by the union on behalf of deputy city marshals, according to the document. The union argued that each deputy city marshal who is tasked with picking up homeless people in an unmarked van and bringing them to nearby resources, is in danger of being attacked.

“There’s significant safety concerns having a van that doesn’t have a safety protective barrier between the driver and the person in back,” union President Steve Grammas told the Review-Journal. “We want to make sure we’re outfitting or affording our officers to not be subject to attack.”

“The van is not equipped with a screen or divider to protect the Deputy Marshal assigned to drive the vehicle,” the complaint read. “The Deputy Marshal is at risk of being attacked by homeless individuals who may have mental health issues. The armed Deputy Marshal, while focused on operating the vehicle, is exposed to being disarmed by an occupant or being struck from behind.”

The marshals work as part of the MORE team, a partnership with the city of Las Vegas to provide case workers and shelter to homeless residents.

“MORE teams can help transport clients to shelter, housing, detox/rehab programs and to follow-up appointments,” the city wrote in a webpage describing the program, citing that between September and February they contacted more than 7,400 residents.

Grammas said marshals were not assigned to drive this van until late April, and marshals promptly reached out to the union saying they “didn’t feel the setup was safe for them,” Grammas said.

The union argued in the complaint that the marshal may also face situations where they could be exposed to coronavirus, or the homeless person attacking a social worker and the marshal must defend them.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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