Las Vegas Metro has been featured on shows such as "Cops" and "Inside American Jail," but the big police department's latest TV co-production may be a better fit for "Law and Order."
AOL News reported Dec. 4 that Tina Vlijter, also known as "Hot Blond Tina" of YouTube fame, had filed suit against Santa Monica-based Langley Productions.
The company — following Vlijter's June 2008 arrest by Las Vegas Metro — filmed her intoxicated antics inside Metro's booking area and showed them on Langley's syndicated television show, "Inside American Jail." Vlijter and her attorney argue that Langley did it without her informed consent, given that Vlijter was still inebriated when she signed the company's consent form.
The lawsuit is raising questions about the relationship between Langley Productions and Las Vegas Metro Sheriff Douglas Gillespie. It also is giving new prominence to a "lost" ethics complaint that a Metro detective filed against Gillespie this summer over mandated cooperation with the production company.
According to AOL News reporter Steve Friess, both Gillespie and Langley Productions owner John Langley have declined to say how the cameras were able to film the incident.
Similarly, when Nevada Journal, a publication of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, requested comment from Langley Productions, a spokeswoman there declined to respond. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also did not respond to Nevada Journal queries.
In May, Metro Detective Gordon Martines, then a candidate for Clark County Sheriff, filed an ethics complaint against Gillespie.
According to the complaint, Metro higher-ups had called a mandatory Robbery Section meeting and introduced four producers from "Cops." During the meeting, "approx. 33 police detectives were ordered by Staff that we all would be cooperating, participating and assisting these civilian TV producers with their production of an Episode of 'COPS' in Las Vegas from this moment on until further advised," the complaint stated.
When Martines questioned producer Susan Carney about how the production came to be, says the complaint, Carney replied that, "The Sheriff ordered this, we are helping his campaign for re-election."
Carney's response was heard by seven officers, says the complaint.
Martines submitted his complaint to the secretary of state on May 7, 2010. However, unbeknownst to Martines, the secretary of state's office forwarded Martines' complaint to the Nevada Ethics Commission.
When he hadn't received a response by September, Martines wrote the secretary of state's office demanding a follow-up. Secretary-of-state personnel confirmed they'd passed his complaint on to the Ethics Commission and apologized for not following up.
"You never know with Nevada politics," said Martines. "Nevada's corrupt politics sets the standard for everyone else in the nation to follow."
Martines' complaint apparently falls under NRS 281A.520, which states, "... a public officer or employee shall not request or otherwise cause a governmental entity to incur an expense or make an expenditure to support or oppose: a ballot question or candidate."
According to campaign disclosures, Langley gave Gillespie $10,000 during his 2006 campaign and $35,000 for his 2010 reelection campaign.
According to documents obtained by Nevada Journal, Langley Productions and LVMPD signed a contract for "America Behind Bars" on Jan. 23, 2007 and a contract for "Cops" on April 12, 2010. Both contracts were signed after the campaign contributions were made.
Nevada Journal also obtained a media agreement dated June 29, 2010 between LVMPD and Langley Productions, in which Langley Productions "requested permission to have access to certain L.V.M.P.D personnel in order to produce the Program which is intended to include the investigation by L.V.M.P.D. of various crimes and/or criminal activity."
According to information provided by the Metro's Office of Public Records, LVMPD and other public employees do not receive any monetary compensation from Langley Productions, and no additional public resources are required for producing the shows.
If Metro does not receive or transfer any public resources to Langley Productions, the department would be compliant with NRS 281A.520. Multiple contracts were signed after Gillespie filed his candidacy (March 2, 2010, according to Clark County's elections office).
Nevada Journal obtained a copy of a letter that the Nevada Ethics Commission sent Martines. It states his complaint was referred to a commission panel that would investigate whether or not further action will take place.
Caren Jenkins, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said that by law she could neither confirm nor deny the status of the complaint or whether the Ethics Commission will render an opinion.
Martines says that, regardless of the outcome, his primary goal was the investigation. He questions why the investigation has taken seven months from when he first filed the complaint.
"My whole concern is the due process," Martines said. "You violate my rights, you violate everyone's rights."