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Tim Burke: Other places worse than Pahrump on LivePD

I must admit it. I miss Nye County on LivePD. I never was a fan of how it made Pahrump look on national TV, but I watched the popular show waiting for the segments of Nye County (primarily Pahrump) with more interest than what was happening in the other departments the show follows.

I would look to see if it was anyone I recognized and what part of town the LivePD cameras and our sheriff’s office were in. I have also been embarrassed by what was shown of our town and its residents. But if you watch the show enough, you will see other parts of our country that are worse, often dramatically worse. People strung out on drugs or alcohol, living in deplorable conditions and often homeless, is a nationwide epidemic.

There are common themes in almost all the action captured by the LivePD cameras.

An officer pulls over a motorist for some sort of violation, often minor infractions that would normally be just a warning to the driver. He or she will ask the driver for their driver’s license. No license. You then will hear a rambling monologue by the driver on why they don’t have their license. Going with the “no license” scenario they will also not have insurance or a valid registration. The officer may ask if they can search the vehicle. Sometimes the driver agrees and sometimes they don’t. During this interview process the officer or their partner is running a background check on the driver and passengers of their arrest history and any traffic violations. A substantial number of drivers or their passengers will end up having outstanding warrants.

During the traffic stop if the officer has any reason to suspect drugs are present, they will call for a K9 team specially trained to detect the most common illegal drugs. I have been fortunate enough to have trained Police K-9 teams for drugs and explosives, so I really pay attention to what is happening on the show when the dogs are checking the vehicle for drugs. You will generally see some great work by the teams in identifying any illegal drugs.

The dogs are specially trained to indicate to their handler when they detect the odor of drugs. Only once on the show did I see a search where the handler said the dog alerted when clearly if you know what to look for there was no alert. During that K-9 search I wanted to start throwing things at my TV. That segment was a popular discussion subject on social media among K-9 trainers who work with law enforcement.

When the show is not displaying motorists pulled over, they will show calls for domestic disturbances or robberies. The common thread in these calls is that generally drugs and/or alcohol is a major part of the situation. Violent crimes, car chases, and other serious crimes are part of the show as well but those are really a very minor portion. Inevitably, you see the same issues in the crimes repeatedly – drugs and alcohol, drugs and alcohol, and more drugs and alcohol. The show gives you an appreciation of just how tough it is to be a police officer or sheriff’s deputy and what they must put up with daily.

Having worked with inmates in vocational programs at all levels of incarceration in Nevada, I have found that most people in prison are in there for the same reason that keeps LivePD and the officers busy. Illegal drugs. Even when the inmate is in there for a crime such as robbery or domestic violence, if you dig into their history a little you will find that the cause of their criminal behavior leads back to drugs. Drugs are destroying lives at what seems like an accelerating pace. So much for the government’s war on drugs.

Perhaps the producers of LivePD came here because they had heard of Pahrump’s purported reputation as being a good place to hide out if you were into drugs. In the end, we turned out to be rather boring and fortunately, that reputation is fading in the rearview mirror as our officials continue to work hard to eliminate drug users from our community. I do know one thing, after watching the show, I have no plans to visit El Paso or parts of Florida. They make our few crime segments seem trivial in comparison to what goes on in those areas.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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