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Metro chopper investigation: TAX DOLLAR WASTE? | P1

Reported by: Reed Cowan
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Updated: 3/11/2014 7:49 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- A News 3 investigation of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police records shows that no Metro supervisor approved an August police helicopter flight for rock star DJ Ashba, one of 301 citizen rides provided by the law enforcement agency between 2011 and last year, according to our investigation.

The total price tag for the $485-an-hour rides was nearly $146,000 at a time when the police agency is seeking a sales tax hike to hire more police officers.

Ashba flew on a Metro chopper to propose to his girlfriend, with photos of the August event ending up on social media, prompting a Metro investigation and punishment for those involved.

Metro police officials provided News 3 with a copy of the waiver for Ashba’s flight -- a document that lacked the signature of any supervisors, angering Clark County Commissioners, who oversee Metro’s operations and budget.

In the months after the flight, the Guns N’ Roses co-lead guitarist maintained that it was approved by Metro supervisors and the agency’s protocol was followed, but Metro records show that Ashba’s account is not accurate.

“This was a violation of policy because a supervisor should have signed off,” Metro spokesman Lawrence Hadfield wrote in an email to News 3.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told News 3 that he asked for copies of waivers signed for other freebie citizen flights, as well as proof that every flight was approved by a supervisor. He has received “nothing” in response to his requests.

“I’m surprised, but at the same time I’m totally not shocked,” Sisolak said. “This is an issue of accountability and transparency, and I’ve had a difficulty getting information out of Metro.”

Department officials say the entire episode reflects a “perception problem,” and that they have provided Sisolak with the identities of those permitted to fly.

“We want to share what we have ... there’s no reason not to share it,” Metro’s Hadfield said.

Sisolak notes that there was a common factor among many of the people receiving free flights: “The gateway appears to be money clout and connections. These are not your everyday people.”


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