Posted by Michael Zahara on Jul 14, 2015
For quite a stretch at the LVMPD during ‘The Dark Years’, basically, most of the years since Sheriff Moran retired with a big downward dip the past 12 or so, I really thought he was the only Metro Police Manager who hadn’t completely lost his mind yet; I really did!
And then he kept showing up for his shifts too!
He was the first LVMPD Officer I ever apologized to, another would follow and one more yet to come whenever I run into him. But I didn’t apologize to now retired LVMPD Deputy Chief Al Salinas for anything I had written about him, but because I took great risks writing about him as much as I had and at now Sheriff Lombardo’s public entrance as the State of Nevada’s Premier Parade Geek candidate at the City of Henderson’s St Pat’s Parade in 2014, I had some time with Salinas who was gracious and behind the wheel of one of the cars he digs restoring and I offered to him my apology for taking those risks with his career.
We had actually met at Paradise Park in 2006 during the heat of the Sheriff’s race that year and I also met then Captain and now Deputy Chief Brett Zimmerman there too and some of his subordinates. I was with candidate Lt Ron Williams who has a deep, genuine affection for then Captain Al Salinas who was supporting then retired Deputy Chief, now Boulder City Police Chief Bill Conger, and Salinas paid a big price for that support.
That really pissed me off too and I never forgot it either.
I was in a enviable spot in 2006; Lt Williams never asked me to excuse myself when he went into ‘Cop-mode’ with his colleagues and I really appreciated and respected that and I knew never to say a word while he was in the ‘Cop Zone’ but was filled with nothing but questions when he and I were alone, if I had them. Al Salinas presented a challenge to me trying to gauge if Lt Williams, had things gelled for us, would go with then Assistant Sheriff Rod Jett or Al Salinas as his Undersheriff. Jett, who Ron also surprised me liking very much and his assessment of both men was solid then and still solid today. My high opinion of both men has never wavered because of Ron’s spot-on assessments, and though I had much fun here with Jett’s bombastic personality, Al Salinas was the guy who I always saw as the man who when something went wrong within the company that is the LMVPD, they turned to him, and he cleaned it up.
I know the Feds like him a lot and respected him too.
Now at Paradise Park that morning, I couldn’t if my life depended on it remember why in the hell we had gone there in the first place, but it was some type of Community Event, I’m confident in saying. Ron and Al locked eyes and made a bee-line to one another and were like two old ladies hanging the laundry up, catching up on the details and gossip, barely pausing or coming up for air as they talked to one another.
It was magnificent to see these two men, superior and subordinate interacting like that; almost father and son-like too, like no one else was even in the park that morning!
He looks much different today!
Said me back to now Deputy Chief Zimmerman ‘Hey, I’ve heard a lot about you sir.’ We had some mutual friends long gone from the Civilian side and he’s been high on my radar ever since and it took the news of Al’s retirement to jar my usually dependable memory bank to remember that it was Lt Williams who had told me on our way to our next stop that morning that then Captain Zimmerman and then Captain Joe Lombardo were ‘study buddies’ and he used that term, at UNLV, both enrolled at the time with Brett pursuing Accounting, I think, and Joe his Masters, which scooted him over the top in November, long ago having chosen Policing over the study of ummm, ‘Rocks’, where he was all set on a career in Energy Exploration, which I didn’t know that specific detail until the 2014 St Pat’s Parade either as one of his class mates then made it a point to inform me that Joe was indeed, a ‘Rock Geek’!
Being a ‘Rock Geek’ myself, it’s important to note that the current sheriff had to have had a strong mathematical and science background to pursue that career goal before coming over to Metro. Think about what Math & Science are about and what parts of the brain need to be fully engaged and you folks at the LVMPD will understand the Boss a little better and how he processes things.
Clearly, Law Enforcement would be more impressive to the chicks and the LMVPD recruiter signed Lombardo up for Metro and the rest is LVMPD history! During the course of the 2014 ‘study buddies’ came up in a casual conversation with Zimmerman and a giant smile spread across my face imagining those two on campus, ‘studying’. I’m smiling keying this; can you even imagine those two at UNLV?...and ‘studying?
But Al Salinas interspersed his conversation that morning with some saltier exclamations and exasperation at the current State of the 2006 Company as I call it, you guys know it as Metro or the LVMPD. Ron hung on his every word, and so did everyone else in ear shot including me and DC Zimmerman. When Al Salinas spoke, like EF Hutton, people listened, and he loved Lt Ron Williams too, that was abundantly clear to all of us that morning. He had the chops and the gravitas to proffer opinions, but was always publicly a consummate company man himself eating the indignities superiors may have served up like cafeteria ‘Shit Sandwiches’ the Department became infamous for serving back then to its Managers and Supervisors.
What he said to me after my apology to him at the 2014 St Pat’s Parade was very quiet, short, and concise and I’ll remember it for the rest of my days very happy to know this very good man and be a champion for him and others who toiled seemingly unnoticed for years at Metro.
I wanted you to know that I noticed Chief Salinas.
It wasn’t just Ron and his pals’ very high opinion of you either sir, he and Bobby G for instance, have very high opinions of Lt Hughes for example, and I was unable to achieve that level with her is as polite as I can be here. Watching all of you folks performing since 2006, I formulated my own views; Lt Williams had planted a lot of seeds in my Views Garden though.
You rose to become the highest ranking Latino-American in Department history and you did it not with flash or pizzazz, or a whole lot of bullshit or any back-stabbing that I ever heard about either, but with good old-fashioned hard work and with love of the Department always, always evident; I could see and hear the hurt in your voice over what the Department had become back then at Paradise Park and you never left my daily radar. Your subordinates never stopped telling me how good a Training Officer you were either and that’s why I was exceptionally pleased you stayed around and helped ease Sheriff Lombardo’s transition too; that’s what a pro does; that’s what a professional Law Enforcement officer is!
Sir, you never struck me as the kind of guy who wore his ethnicity on his sleeve, or ran to hide behind it when the going got tough for you and I really admire that quality in you because I know first hand your having risen so high at the LVMPD was indeed, extraordinarily important to your Latino subordinates especially. I saw with my own eyes these past years those young men and women looking at you with their eyes sparkling and overflowing with admiration and respect. One young woman in Patrol today, considers you to be equal to her own father and she’s sees a big, very bright career because of barriers you yourself broke down at the LVMPD!
God Bless ‘ya for that sir, you have inspired and motivated far more than than I ever may know about and I also wanted you to know that in the aftermath of Captain Dave O’Leary, and the press publishing yours and AS McCurdy’s alleged comments earlier this year, me and I’m sure thousands of other readers were in full agreement with you! I like Dave but he was a big dumb-ass with that occurring at the height of the campaign for Sheriff and he should have never resigned over what, $300 bucks a month and his title? I was stunned on two things: That he never brought up publicly to anyone that the helicopter ride-alongs had been going on for easily 20 years and that they had also occurred when then candidate Lombardo was in charge of there too was what the inattentive press missed. O’Leary, like you, was a company man too and chose not to deliver to Captain Burns a sure hit with voters against now Sheriff Lombardo and that must have been your chewing his stupid ass out! I also thought Douglas over-…, oh forget about him, who the hell cares about him now?
<–I should also note that I was also equally stunned AS Radio McCurdy said anything at all when you two were chewing Dave’s ass. I thought they had dismantled him and took all of his moving parts out and packed them away back before USDOJ came calling on Douglas!
MLK and Desert Sky? I don’t recall him saying or grunting much of anything during that time!
I thought maybe he had become a monk taken a vow of silence!
Because of your immense amount of patience during a lot of the bullshit and your stick-to-itivenss, Clark County and the LVMPD will see Latino officers continue to rise to prominence within the Department, and the positions of Assistant Sheriff, Undersheriff, and Sheriff of Clark County will be filled by Latino-American officers who are almost certainly on the force today, or preparing for the next Academy or two, and that will happen not only because of demographics, but because of merit, skill, and professionalism which were your hallmark qualities.
You gave them something to aim for sir, and showed to them that it could be done…and done very well too. You were no Affirmative Action or Quota Placement, and you know what’s the very cool thing? Everyone knows that about you sir; and I do mean everyone knows you went out and you earned it all and if there’s a melancholy moment or two as your adjusting to civilian life while adjusting the timing belt on some old junkyard beater you’re going to make ‘Cherry’, just remember that there’s a whole lot of people besides me who appreciated your being a part of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
And I just wanted to say to you sir, Thank you!