The Nevada Police Union issued a vote of no confidence in Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday over his handling of understaffing and turnover rates of state police.
Union members voted in a poll from Oct. 14 through Oct. 17, which resulted in 95.3 percent of the 473 voting members declaring ‘No Confidence’ in Sisolak, according to a statement from the union published Tuesday.
“The state is collecting approximately $1 billion more revenue than projected this year along with billions in federal funds coming into the state. Yet once again, state police have been left out and our vacancy and turnover rates continue to be ignored, “ said Dan Gordon, president of NPU in the statement.
“It has become clear that our members believe public safety is not a priority of this governor and that is why they have overwhelmingly declared no confidence in Governor Sisolak to ever address these critical issues,” Gordon said.
The Nevada Police Union, which represents highway patrol troopers, parole and probation officers, fire marshals, state detectives, game wardens, park rangers, and university and Capitol Police officers, said in the statement that it has sounded the alarm on pay inequity and poor working conditions that has led to police officers leaving.
The union provided solutions to the governor’s office, such as using Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to distribute COVID-19 hazard and/or retention pay to state police officers.
“While many states have used these funds to support police, the governor’s office claimed using these funds in this manner was not appropriate or a priority,” the statement says.
The union endorsed Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who voted for the funding programs and whose office wrote a memo outlining how the funds can be used for public safety, the statement says. But Sisolak did not take action, and dismissed Cortez Masto’s memo, the statement says.
The state has also increased Public Employees’ Retirement System and health insurance costs, reduced uniform allowances and mandated furlough days, according to the union.
“These increases exacerbated a state police pay inequity of 25%-50% below their counterparts at the local level,” the statement says.
The governor’s spokesperson, Meghin Delaney, called the vote of no confidence a “political stunt” as a part of ongoing contract negotiations with the state.
“These stunts only hurt the men and women who put their lives on (the) line every day to keep our communities safe,” Delaney said in a statement.
She described Sisolak’s record of supporting law enforcement, such as signing collective bargaining into law in 2019, which allowed police to negotiate their wages. He also increased the budget for the State Police by 11 percent since he took office, according to his campaign.
Sisolak announced plans in February to seek a raise for state police in the next legislative session and will continue to negotiate with the union, Delaney said. He also plans to address the issues with the Public Employees’ Retirement System and set aside funds for furlough pay, his campaign said in a statement.
“Governor Sisolak has always prioritized law enforcement, ensuring state police have the right to collectively bargain, proposing their first significant pay raise in over a decade, and funding State Police at its highest levels,” said Sisolak campaign manager Sam Barrett in a statement.
“NPU’s leadership’s tactics are nothing more than a political stunt that solely hurts the men and women of law enforcement,” Barrett said. “Governor Sisolak has always fought for better pay and protections for workers and that will never change, regardless of any lobbyist’s political ploys.”
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, also issued a statement saying the union would not even exist without Sisolak and the Legislature “giving them the right to organize.” She also criticized the union’s lobbyist, Eddie Ableser, who is the son-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, who the union endorsed in the Republican primary. Ableser failed to get the union a contract in the last legislative session, Carlton said.
“We in the Legislature and with Governor Sisolak have funded Nevada law enforcement at the highest levels ever. Now, because of a legislatively impotent lobbyist, they are turning their backs on their longtime legislative supporters in order to cover up their leadership’s failures,” Carlton said.
Lack of support noted
The campaign for Sisolak’s opponent in the Nov. 8 election, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, said Sisolak has received a “no confidence” vote from two critical unions, the Clark County Education Association and now the Nevada Police Union.
“This lack of support and confidence in a sitting governor is unprecedented in Nevada and speaks to Sisolak’s absolute failure to lead on every level,” said Elizabeth Ray, spokesperson for Lombardo’s campaign, in a statement.
The union’s vote of no confidence in Sisolak, however, does not mean an endorsement for Lombardo. The union did not return requests for comment about whether or not it is endorsing Lombardo for governor.
The Nevada Police Union contributes regularly to its Protect & Serve political action committee, which has donated to the Assembly Republican Caucus PAC, the Senate Republican Leadership Conference, Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Wellington, Assemblyman Philip PK O’Neill, R-Carson City, and Heller, according to financial reports.
Contact Jessica Hill at [email protected] Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.