Las Vegas Strip Tries to Solve a Dangerous Problem

Sin City wants, well a little less sin, and a major step is being taken to make that happen.

Hotel casinos and other businesses along the Las Vegas Strip are hoping to increase safety and reduce crime along the busy resort corridor to ease the minds of their guests, and Clark County believes it may have the solution for their concerns.

The Strip has endured some high profile crimes in the last year including several shootings that have led to murder and attempted murder charges. A man was arrested Dec. 6 for alleged attempted murder in a shooting of an employee outside of a McDonald’s restaurant on the Strip.

In another shooting incident, Billy Hemsley, 54, was arrested hours after allegedly shooting and killing a man on Aug. 4 in a room at The Mirage, owned by MGM Resorts International  (MGM) – Get Free Report, and wounding two women. Hemsley has been charged with murder and two counts of alleged attempted murder in that case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Police were also investigating a Sept. 29 shooting of a man at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Circle, who was later dropped off at a hospital.

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Judge Will Focus on Crimes in Certain Area

These incidents shine a light on crime on the Strip, which the Las Vegas Justice Court will begin addressing in January as Sin City begins enforcing its new “order-out corridor” ordinance, which gives a judge the authority to ban people from the Strip and surrounding areas for up to a year if they are convicted of a crime.

Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa will be assigned all cases involving crimes that occur on the Strip or its surrounding areas that are within the order-out corridor boundaries from Sahara Avenue to Russell Road and various boundaries to the west and east, the Review-Journal reports. Saragosa will take the gavel following the expiration of her term as the court’s chief judge.

“The objective of the Resort Corridor Court is to lower crime in the resort corridor, improve the overall employee and visitor experience, and get services for those who will benefit from them,” Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, told the Review-Journal in an emailed statement. “We have a responsibility to try new things and do better to maintain a safe and secure experience for our visitors, employees and residents.”

ACLU Objects to the New Las Vegas Strip Ordinance

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, however, is concerned that the new ordinance and court might encroach on people’s constitutional rights, the Review-Journal said. It reportedly believes the Strip can be considered a “public forum” for First Amendment activities like protests or street performances.

“If a government is going to try to keep someone away from a public forum, just completely cut them off from it, typically speaking the government needs to have a really good reason for that,” said Christopher Peterson, legal director of the ACLU of Nevada.

The ACLU reportedly has not yet filed any court challenges to the ordinance, but officials who developed the ordinance believe it will hold up in court. Representatives from the Nevada Resort Association, Clark County Commissioners, judges, the district attorney’s office, public defender’s office and Metropolitan Police Department all contributed to the crafting of the ordinance.

The new ordinance and special court are also an effort to find “long-term solutions for homeless and mentally ill people on the Strip,” Metro Assistant Sheriff John McGrath told the Review Journal.

However, the ACLU has questioned whether removing people from the Strip will improve safety. “Is it really going to be used to make anyone safer, or is it really going to be used to brush away people the corporations and the casinos are going to find undesirable?” Peterson said.

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