Farewell My Treasured Friend Larry Burns!

Posted by Michael Zahara on Sep 11, 2019

July 11th has not been a good date or day for me for a number of years.  It began as my Grandma’s birthday 7/11/1913 and that was cool until she died in 1993 and we buried her near to Santa Fe Station in the Northwest and then it became just another day for me.  We would bury Grandpa on top of her after he passed in 2014 which I still think is weird, but that’s how you Westerners do burials out here!

<—-This is Captain Burns posing with some riff-raff at Main Street Station in the lead-up to the 2014 Sheriff’s race!

Then in 2010 I wanted to broaden my observations for the WatchdogWag Project and I attended my first GOP Convention at Green Valley Ranch on Saturday July 10, 2010.  It was great and I had a very good time determined to meet GOPers I hadn’t yet met and I got to sit down with Sharron Angle and thought her just a bit unusual but didn’t see her as the fire-breathing Republican Extremist NVDEMS had painted her as.  She belonged in the 2010 GOP Primary for US Senate that summer, Danny Tarkanian did not because she had already achieved elected public office up North and Danny was

determined not to work his way up the political office ladder as his mother Lois did, but to start his public life at the very top of the political food chain.  His presence and arrogance cost a flat-footed and poorly advised Sue Lowden—also a former elected—her shot at  dethroning Harry Reid which I believe she would have done—and so did Harry Reid Inc!

<—-This is Captain Burns at his campaign launch at Police Memorial Park with retired Undersheriff Rod Jett who set the modern standard for what an undersheriff does for us at the LVMPD!

US Jett would have beaten Sheriff Gillespie had he chosen to challenge him in 2010!

I would leave GVR and head home and after I arrived, walking to the 7-11 at Maryland Parkway & Bonanza just east of Metro’s DTAC is the last thing I remember.  I was staying in Grandma Marge’s Guest House for the summer behind a meticulously well-maintained small home from another era. Marge, who is not my Grandma nor would I or could I call her Grandma or Marge cuz she was a tough old broad easily 140 years old then and she ruled that block like it was her own as the very last White woman seemingly for miles around…and she actually was that and her 100% Latino neighbors and their children all treated her with a reverence and respect which caught me off-guard since she wasn’t very personable with anyone.  Her gardens were beautiful and well kept as were her lawn, scrubs and trees.  I thought maybe they feared her cuz she was hell on wheels on that motor scooter of hers barking orders to her lawn guys and again to the guys who did the trees and shrubs. While I’m sure the little kids feared her and that Marge enjoyed that, the neighbors told me that they were amazed at how strong-willed and independent-minded she was and that they admired and respected her for staying in her home—by herself mind you—despite the neighborhood having changed demographically many years before.

<—-Larry at his launch with fellow Regional Treasure Dr Dale Mitchell Carrison

I never made it home from 7-11 having been run over by two drunk drivers drag racing one another westbound on Bonanza who were both illegal aliens and I was a pedestrian on the sidewalk and according to the 7-11 kids who witnessed it, ‘Dude, you were flyin!’ meaning I was airborne all would testify at the trial of the only guy Metro caught because he wrapped his car around a telephone pole and couldn’t move!  I woke up past midnight naked inside of the CAT Scan machine at UMC on Sunday July 11, 2010 and didn’t remember anything that had happened I would tell LVMPD Traffic Bureau’s officer who came right away when they called and said I regained consciousness.

I never saw a dime from insurers, the guy they caught did pay his small restitution, I couldn’t move for a solid month but broke no bones but was bruised everywhere on my body and lost all ten toenails within a week and did intensive physical therapy because they weren’t sure how exactly I had landed based on the CAT Scans and where I was really sore!   A Lieutenant at Metro contacted me by email and introduced himself including his home email address:

[email protected]


<—Peanut the Prostitute Cat!

He wished me good health and speedy recovery and insisted that I call him directly should I need anything at all and not just from the LVMPD.    I always forgot to ask him if he was Douglas’s XOLT—executive officer lieutenant—when he did contact me bcuz Metro knocked it outta the park for me on many levels and I wasn’t being very nice to Sheriff Gillespie at the time. The Lt and me knew of one another’s legends from mutual friends in the Department and LDS but hadn’t met one another and this was four years past Ron’s 2006 race and I was delaying our meeting up and avoiding chances I might have taken to meet him.   I wrote this piece about it one month later:


<—Sis made this bowl at Cameron Williams’ birthday party in 2006.  Today Ms Williams is a beautiful grown woman and her brother’ Buzz a grown young man and boy am I getting old!

Then last year, the very best animal any of us ever had which we got during a low time after having to put my Ma’s cat down during Lt Ron Williams’ 2006 race,  had a kitty stroke on July 10 of 2018 and died the following night July 11, 2018 at home and seems to have been waiting for me to get there before she checked out.  She had whored herself like a pro into our lives and I spotted her at PetsMart the morning after they put the other one down and called them to get over there quickly because she wasn’t going to last the hour much less the day.  That was the only time in family history anyone has ever listened to me tho my youngest brother anointed me ‘Speaker of the House’ 50 year ago!  ‘Peanut’ was a Rescue, I still miss her but she was my sister’s cat!

So July 11th is not a date of good memories for me and that would continue into this year.


<—This is Metro Crime Analyst legend Chris Wilson who made it her mission that I would understand the very complex goings on at the LVMPD. 

She treated me as a peer equal which I was not and she was a superior instructor!  We lost a gem of a civilian when she left Metro!

The Lieutenant who made contact with me was already a Department legend in SWAT as its Commander, today our SWAT is headed by a Captain.  I wasn’t in a great hurry to meet Larry Burns because I became friends with an LVMPD civilian Crime Analyst named Chris Wilson who was without question, Larry’s biggest fan and admirer as well as his biggest personal and professional cheerleader.  Chris was a highly regarded and respected by line staff part of Metro’s team back then but we lost her and a number of other personnel who were disgusted at what the LVMPD had become.  During Ron’s race, she and I began regular email correspondence and she took me to school about the hows and whys of the who and what I was learning about from others and observing myself.  She adored Ron Williams too and the feeling was mutual.

Lt Williams made me love Metro, but Chris Wilson made it her mission to ensure that I cared about it too!  She was a superior instructor explaining many of the complex relationships and the internal and external dynamics and politics of the Department.  Her Intel regarding personnel at all ranks was simply flawless and so spot on that it saved me months of effort had I gone off and tried to collect this kind of data on my own.  Many at the LVMPD would have a superior professional recommendation from Ms Wilson had they requested the same from her.  A childhood neighbor and friend of Undersheriff McMahill and his family in Colorado, it was my great pleasure to help her secure his recommendation when she was seeking her current job up there and I knew she would be angry when I endorsed Joe Lombardo in 2014 over Larry Burns, and she let me have it in no uncertain terms!

<—That’s Larry at the Clark County Library with Lucy Riccardo and Ethel Mertz behind him to the left—Michelle Fiore & Victoria Seaman—during the 2014 campaign!

Larry’s reaction to my endorsing Joe was very different than Chris Wilson’s and reflected who and what he was as an LVMPD officer and as a person of great value and stature in our community. and as a new friend of mine.  Joe was simply ‘more ready’ to become sheriff than Larry was and I cited for him chapter and verse what had given me pause and raised Red Flags of concern when Larry asked how I came about my conclusion, beginning with his campaign’s total absence from the first public event of the campaign season, the City of Henderson’s St Patrick’s Day Parade which is always a very well attended event and seeing that Burns lived in Henderson, by his not sending a contingent to march for him while he and his family attended a family wedding, he had surrendered his own backyard territory to Joe Lombardo who was spectacular out there that day, just spectacular! It was a major misstep and mistake and I don’t think the Burns campaign ever regained its solid footing it had established for itself at his launch!

Remember I had thought for years by this time that Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody had been so focused on the Office of Sheriff that he’d been planning his campaign since the second grade!  Larry Burns’ campaign launch remains today, the very best political campaign launch I have ever seen in this state and ranks among the very top I have ever seen anywhere else too!  Its the reason I honestly never thought to ask him about anything regarding it because I thought he had managers and strategists, and consultants just based on the launch which turned out to be just him, wife beloved wife Annie, and ‘Daddy’s Girl’ daughter Lexi Burns Dessau, each who had never done anything like it before.

I am very pleased for Lexi and her husband Andre who are expecting their second child next month, but I am saddened that that child will not know his Grandpa because Larry’s relationship with Lexi’s daughter Avery was very much fun for me to observe when I was a guest at their home for dinner and on the way home, I told Larry that everything must be such a great adventure for you and Avery, ‘Grandpa needs a new hammer, let’s go to Home Depot!  Yay!’  Their bond was extraordinary and very easy to see. But I also believe that their new baby will be a living postcard from above and that everyone in the Burns family will see Larry in everything that he does which should make the holidays and coming months for all of them, just a bit easier.

I also wanted to ensure here that I do something I have never done before nor ever thought I would be doing by sincerely thanking Sheriff Gillepsie for his very kind words and recollections of Captain Burns which ran in the local media following his much too early death.  Douglas, that was very solid of you sir and you gave great comfort to Annie and the kids by publicly doing so, and doing it so well too!  I know your words to be sincere and genuine because I knew your friendship was real and the only time Larry and I ever discussed you was after his loss when I told him that your making him XOLT in 2010 was the date that he actually had lost the 2014 sheriff’s race here.  Whether or not it was your idea or Kent Oram’s suggestion, it was strategically speaking, a politically brilliant move which kept Larry Burns out of the 2010 race he needed to run and lose in order to run and win in 2014!  I told him that you appealed to his vanity when I gave him my post-campaign assessment of his effort and that that was no sin or character flaw in his accepting the appointment because any officer so designated in our Department, is held the very highest regard across the Department regardless of any sheriff’s motivation in doing so.

Larry paused to consider what I had told him and agreed with my take and wasn’t upset with Douglas or himself about it either. We talked at length about a 2018 rematch and he told me that he had always had in the back of his mind the County Commission seat for District A, a seat he would have beaten former occupant and incumbent Steve Sisolak for it,  or secured appointment to it by Sisolak when Steve was elected Governor.

Alas, he had no stomach for either office anymore and I was very pleased for him that he did not because I was never fully convinced by Larry that he really wanted to be Clark County Sheriff but was running for it because so many people were expecting him to run, demanding of him that he run really.  I believe with all that I’ve got that Captian Larry Burns would have been perfectly content and fulfilled personally and professionally remaining as Captain of Bolden Area Command where his most important and effective career achievements occurred after Douglas appointed him it Commander.


He loved being the Captain there and I met two of his constituent fans at his launch—two older Black-American gentlemen in their 70s—and asked them why they came out to the launch and they both said ‘because Captain Burns asked us to come’. and I thought immediately about Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which won Gregory Peck an Oscar and asked both guys if they saw Larry as the Atticus of the West Side. reminding them of the climactic scene in the iconic movie where all the Black-Americans in the courtroom gallery balcony rose and stood in silence as Atticus left the courtroom.  ‘We stand for him, because he stood for us’ was the the poignant line from one in the gallery in awe that this White man would lay it all on the line for the Black man Tom Robinson who was falsely accused of raping a white woman.

‘Yes, I remember that movie, and that’s a very good comparison!’, said one of the old guys.

I’ve felt comfortable seeing Larry Burns as our Atticus Finch for quite some time too.  Pre-programmed before birth to strive to do the right thing as best he could are Larry’s personal hallmarks.  He lived his faith as he lived his entire life in my view and I’m a better man for just knowing his caliber of person.  It is my respectful suggestion to Larry Bolden’s widow Lois and kids Eric and Chris, that they allow Bolden Area Command to be renamed by Sheriff Lombardo to:

Bolden Burns Area Command

I think Mrs Bolden would enthusiastically approve!  She and Larry developed a relationship which stood the test of time hearkening back to a time when her husband was the first Black-American Deputy Chief at Metro and dealing with the Department’s still clearly visible today, racism, sexism and ethnic bias and bigotry.  Sheriff Moran made him a Deputy Chief where he remained until he retired under Sheriff Keller!

BAC is where Larry Burns made his biggest impact on the Department and on the community over his 27 years of service at Metro.

Today, while two of three Assistant Sheriff’s are Black-American, one who all Department-wide agree should be in federal prison today in Charles Hank III, we still haven’t had a female or Latino Assistant Sheriff, and there are no female Deputy Chiefs at Metro today and their having had only 3 over their 46 year history is Sheriff’s Lombardo’s bigoted and biased legacy he stubbornly refuses to correct today.

A national disgrace in this day and age, Lombardo’s most recent elevation of a male officer to Deputy Chief an absolute civic outrage of pro-White male Department bias and favoritism and coinciding with yet another Black-American man dying in Metro’s custody just days ago…and then as if Sheriff Lombardo is enjoying extending his middle finger to everyone in Clark County again, he assigns this latest incident be told to us by the super-corrupted garbage cop, AS Charles Hank III!

I had told Burns that he needed to make a commitment during his campaign to double-down and re-commit with the full weight and power of the Office of Sheriff to making Metro at all ranks, look like the communities it purports to be serving!  While he fully agreed the goal was worthy and necessary, he would not say so during the campaign seeing it as his taking a direct shot at Doug Gillespie and he would not speak ill of his friend even indirectly.

He’d have won the office in 2014 had he been able to say this, that he could not, speaks to the character of the man we’re all mourning and illustrates precisely what he found to be most important in this life:  The love of people and his fellow man; no sin or sinner was too great not to be redeemable in his eyes and more importantly, in his heart!


As a Mormon Bishop, of course he whipped out a copy of The Book of Mormon for me complete with his personal inscription and book-marked highlighted passage he wanted me to read!  As I took it from him I said, ‘OK, Bishop, on page 79 second column, third paragraph…’ and I rattled him a little bit as he thought I was going to quiz him…and I proceeded to ask him if I wasn’t a sin in LDS, shouldn’t I be?  He laughed, we laughed!

I also explained to him that my home state welcomed his faith to Illinois with the Gift of Fire at Nauvoo and given that, he might get in trouble with other Mormons for trying to recruit me!  He was really surprised that I knew of Nauvoo and I explained to him I learned about it in 6th-grade Social Studies class and that I visited there twice, my confusing Mormonism with Amish for some reason and looking for good pot roast and apple pie in western Illinois which I never found in Nauvoo.  We laughed quite a bit during this exchange because I wanted him to know that I knew him and I knew him better because of his faith life and that as a Confirmed by a Prince of the Church in my faith, a Cardinal, and communion at the hand of a Pope, I was a ‘Lifer’ Roman Catholic!

I cherished making him laugh which was easier than I thought it would be; he could laugh at his own self much better than you might think and the first time I rode with him in his Camaro knowing from others that he was a skilled driver who liked horsepower and speed, I nonchalantly told him to drive anyway he wanted to, ‘I know the sheriff, so don’t worry!’  We both busted out in laughter enjoying the ‘guy moment’ of it all.

The Mandalay Bay Massacre would forever end any further talk of public office between us and we talked privately about ‘integrity’ being the most important component of any and every officer from the top down, and it being the only thing that matter in the end…and at the beginning and middle too!  I’ve been asked if Larry would have handled Mandalay Bay better than Joe and I’ve answered no, because I believe that Mandalay Bay wouldn’t have happened if he were sheriff and though that sounds like a slap at Joe, its not meant to be.  I think God would have given Larry Burns a different Cross to Bear than the Mandalay Bay Massacre and whatever that Cross turned out to be, that he’d have performed in response in exemplary manner and fashion as he always had done in his life.

His journey here on earth was much to short yet those of us who crossed paths with him are blessed and bonused for having done so.  I can’t imagine God allowing him too much leisure time up there and I think He called him home for some unknown to us reason not yet revealed to any of us. I also can’t imagine Larry Burns being too pleased upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates and can picture him negotiating with Jesus and St Peter for a nightly return to kiss Avery’s forehead ‘goodnight’ in exchange for his doing some extra vacuuming and dusting up there!  He was exceedingly proud of the men and women his children had grown to become as adults, but he truly reveled in the joy of seeing them become parents!

One day not too far off, little Avery Dessau will be tooling around the valley in her Grandpa’s Camaro and we’ll all remember this very special man who passed this way on his journey and touched and changed our lives for the better, and then we’ll smile and bow our heads thankful and so very grateful that he had chosen to stop here at all!

Good-bye my treasured friend, your absence will be felt here for many, many years to come!

Mike Zahara Siganture

Michael Zahara

A National Treasure!



…An Adorable Deplorable in Mourning!