During a May 25 meeting of the Evergreen School District Board of Directors, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rachael Rogers stated that ‘policing in the United States is biased’
The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild are at odds over comments made by Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rachael Rogers during a May 25 meeting of the Evergreen School District’s Board of Directors.
In addition to her role in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Rogers also serves as a member of the ESD’s Board of Directors, to which she was elected in November 2019. Video circulated this week of the meeting, during which Rogers spoke for more than five minutes about why she is not in favor of having police officers in the district’s schools serving as School Resource Officers (SROs).
“They are not making our kids safe,’’ Rogers said. “Our SROs are trained police officers. They are trained to look at people as threats. They are looking at our kids as threats. Data shows that schools with more police, more SROs, are more likely to refer kids to law enforcement which leads to charges and leads to arrests. Black students are more likely to be arrested than all other students while at school.’’
Rogers was speaking in general terms. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office does not currently have any officers serving as SROs in Clark County.
“Having a police car out in the parking lot of a high school on a daily basis, just think of the impression that that sends to the children as they are walking into that school,’’ Rogers said. “Yes, I agree it would be great if all of our children had a wonderful relationship with the police. But the fact of the matter is that policing in the United States is biased. Something has to change systemically, significantly, in order for that to change for our kids and our schools. We are sending our children of color into a school where they are seen as a threat. Whether it’s consciously or not by the SRO, they are seen as a threat and as someone to protect against not to protect.’’
On Aug. 30, members of the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild’s Executive Board sent a letter to Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik, in which they referred to Rogers’ comments as “disparaging remarks about law enforcement. These remarks, made not just about law enforcement in general but, specifically, law enforcement here in Clark County, are inappropriate, degrading, and shameful.’’
Specifically, the Executive Board’s letter highlighted the following statements by Rogers:
• “Mostly, they [police] struggle around this idea of equity and how policing people of color happens in the real world.”
• “I don’t like the optic of having police officers in our schools and the lack of trust that shows we have in our children.”
• “They [police] are not making our kids safe.”
• “They’re [police] trained to look at people as threats. They’re looking at our kids as threats.”
• “The fact of the matter is that policing in the United States is biased.”
• “We are sending our children of color into a school where they are seen as a threat, whether it’s consciously or not by that SRO, they are seen as a threat, and as someone to protect against, not to protect.”
The letter went on to state that “Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rogers’ emotionally charged and misplaced statements are nothing shy of denigrating, demoralizing, and infuriating to our members who work hard to protect our community, especially our children. A number of law enforcement officers throughout Clark County have involved themselves and volunteered their time with the Police Activities League program. PAL incorporates law enforcement officers, on their own time, to help mentor and encourage youth (particularly underprivileged youth) through athletic programs, reading events, and other activities in order to foster the development of those children and to build trust and healthy relationships between Clark County’s youth and law enforcement officers through positive interaction. Our office walls are lined with ‘Thank You’ cards and letters from children and students throughout Clark County.’’
A key issue with the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild is whether or not Rogers’ comments reflect the position of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
“While the Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild respects the right of an individual to their freedom of speech, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rogers was not speaking as an individual when she made those statements,’’ the letter stated. “Published on the Evergreen Public Schools website, Rachael Rogers’ profile as a School Board Member lists her as ‘a Clark County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.’ In light of all this, it is the position of the Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild that Rachael Rogers made those disparaging remarks about law enforcement while acting as a representative of your office.’’
The Deputy Sheriff’s Guild letter also pointed out the irony that the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office seems uniquely positioned to identify systemic racism in Clark County and to prevent it. In her comments in the May 25 video, Rogers stated, “The first time we get a kid involved in the system, even if it’s, you know, in the Clark County Juvenile Justice System, where they get to do diversion, it’s still on their record, it still counts, they still go to jail sometimes, they still have to be involved with probation counselors, and that speaks loudly to how likely it is that we’re going to see them again as an adult in the Criminal Justice System.”
The Deputy Sheriff’s Guild board members responded in their letter by stating:
“Mr. Prosecutor, after an arrest or a referral is made, law enforcement officers have nothing to do with the case unless requested by a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for follow-up or to testify in court. The onus lies solely with your office whether a juvenile is criminally charged, whether they get to do diversion, or what their sentencing recommendations are. You appointed Rachael Rogers as your Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, second only to yourself.
“In order to achieve unfailing standards of conduct, Deputy Sheriffs and Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys must maintain healthy and professional working relationships. Those relationships are imperative for us to successfully enforce the law and maintain the public peace in an unbiased manner. Those healthy and professional working relationships are entirely dependent upon mutual trust and respect. The blatant disrespect Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rachael Rogers has shown toward law enforcement, through her public statements, has caused an uproar amongst our membership and has further generated a seemingly deep-rooted rift in the trust between our offices.’’
Brian Kessel, a sergeant with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office spoke with Clark County Today Monday in his role as president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild. He said he and his fellow Executive Board members were still awaiting a response from Golik, who addressed the situation in an interview Monday with Clark County Today.
Golik said that he had viewed the video and had listened to Rogers’ comments.
“She was speaking in her role as an independent elected official,’’ said Golik, who said he read the comments in the Guild letter stating its position is that Rogers’ comments were made while she was “acting as a representative’’ of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “I read that. As I indicated, she was clearly acting and speaking in her role as an independent elected official.’’
As a result, Golik said Rogers has not been disciplined and her position with the prosecutor’s office is unchanged.
“She is a highly valued member of the office who has many years of good work as a prosecutor and lots of work working closely with law enforcement in a highly collaborative manner,’’ Golik said.
Golik was then asked what is the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in regard to bias against law enforcement officers?
“Our office has a long history with law enforcement and it’s certainly my intent to continue to work with law enforcement and partner with them,’’ Golik said. “Members of our office have a high degree of respect for the critical work that law enforcement officers do. People choose to become prosecutors knowing that we will work with law enforcement and Rachael is no exception to that.’’
Golik was then asked about efforts to repair the relationship between his office and the Officer’s Guild.
“I look forward to our regular work together being the strongest way to improve our relationships and that work happens every day between deputy prosecutors and sheriff deputies and I believe there is a great deal of mutual respect in those working relationships,’’ said Golik, who added that he believes “we will have discussions at various points in the future.’’