Policing Ethics, Part One: Firing The Faint Of Heart

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department this week fired Officer Cordell Hendrex for “freezing” (it’s all on video) as a deranged sniper  fired hundreds of rounds into a crowd of county music fans below the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas in 2017. “I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor,” Hendrex said into his radio as he hid behind a wall. “I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”

As Hendrex stayed there in terror (by his own testimony), the gunman continued to fire, eventually killing 58 people and wounding more than 800 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.  His lawyers are  appealing the decision. His defense? He was scared, that’s all. It’s unreasonable for the public to expect  police officers to rise to heroic standards and place their lives in jeopardy in a public safety crisis. The Las Vegas department’s training didn’t prepare Hendrex for storming the hotel room. He’s been a terrific cop, as long as he didn’t have to put his life on the line.

Oh. Continue reading

Were AG Sessions’ Comments In Las Vegas Unethical?

Ethics Scout Fred points me to a little noted episode in the increasingly fraught existence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and asks whether the AG’s comments crossed ethical lines.

Let’s see…

During a speech about two weeks ago in Las Vegas in which he called for harsher prosecution of criminals and cooperation from local authorities as the federal government cracks down on illegal immigration, Sessions segued to the Cliven Bundy prosecution, and said, cryptically, of Nevada Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre,

“I’ve got to tell you, it’s impressive when you have a tough case, a controversial case, and you’ve got the top guy leading the battle, going to court, standing up and defending the office and the principles of the law. I’m not taking sides or commenting on the case. Just want to say that leadership requires, a lot of times, our people to step up and be accountable.”

Supporters of the Bundy-led armed stand-off with federal authorities think that the Trump administration may sympathize with their anti-government stance, but Trump administration prosecutors are still seeking penalties for Bundy and his group.

Fred notes that “while Sessions is not responsible for how others take what he says, at least no more than any public speaker,  the effect of his remarks was to encourage lawbreakers,” based on the statement by Ashley Jones, a producer for radio show host Pete Santilli. Santili, a Bundy ally, is incarcerated pending trial in the case. Jones pronounced Sessions’ comments “a victory for us.”

Comments: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: The Staff and Administrators of Summerlin Hospital (Las Vegas)

 

Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers wanted to treat their newborn's illness their own way...

The angry parents of a newborn have sparked protests against Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, by revealing that their baby was kept at the hospital against their will after a nurse contacted social services for what they describe as an “unjustified reason.”

 

The “unjustified reason” was that Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers wanted to take baby Lilia home and treat her jaundice “the natural way,” according to her mother. Whenever hospital staff hears a parent say that the family wants to eschew hospital treatment of a child’s serious health problem “the natural way’—or, for that matter, “the supernatural way”, as in “we’re going to put it in God’s hands,” a child’s life is in danger. This is the time for a hospital to stop thinking about legal issues (“Make sure they sign a waiver and consent form!”) or public controversy, and to think about the endangered welfare of the child. Continue reading

Don’t Apologize for the Truth, Mr. President.

For the second time in less than  a year, Nevada officials are annoyed with President Obama for a remark he has made about Las Vegas–essentially the same remark, in fact, he delivered before.

Speaking in New Hampshire about budget austerity, the President said, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It’s time your government did the same.”

The mayor of Las Vegas is demanding an apology. True, in tough economic times, the President should refrain from specifically discouraging tourism to a particular location. Continue reading

The Casinos and the Whale

Japanese tycoon Terrance Watanabe gambled away nearly $127 million at the Caesar’s Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, and now is suing the casinos even as he faces criminal charges for refusing to pay them over $15 million in additional debts. He claims that the gambling establishments allowed him to gamble while intoxicated in violation of state casino regulations, and otherwise share blame for his outlandish losses, believed to be the most any gambler has amassed in a single year. Continue reading