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EDITOR’S NOTE: A cornerstone of Las Vegas Weekly's decidedly only-in-Vegas "Alcohol Appreciation Issue," this won the Nevada Press Association’s “Best Editorial” award in 2001.

Happy Drunks; Mean Drunks
There’s a lesson about cops in here somewhere


By Chuck Nowlen
Published March 15, 2001
Copyright 2001, Las Vegas Weekly/Radiant City Publications

OK, some people get happy when they drink; other people get mean.

Us? We’re only mean when we’re sober.

So think of this column as that besotted hug you give the office jackass at the tail end of the St. Patrick’s Day party, just because you feel so damned good.

Don’t worry, though: Just like after the party, we’ll soon be skewering the bastards again every chance we get.

Anyway, it’s time to say something good about the cops.

Yep, they can still be control-freak brutes on occasion, and, in Sin City, they seem to get away with anything most of the time. And few sights can strike pee-your-pants fear in people’s hearts like the reflection of a big-ass squad car looming ever closer in a rear-view mirror.

But the UNLV Police Department, for one, has been showing a kinder, gentler side recently. Since January, some officers have been patrolling the campus not in a super-macho cruiser, but in a cute little egg-shaped vehicle that’s powered by electricity.

Cross a golf cart, a VW Bug and the movie character, Babe, and you’ll get the idea.


“I thought it would be ideal for patrolling the campus malls and parking lots,” smiled UNLV Police Chief Jose Elique last week in the campus “Update” newsletter. “Because it is battery powered, it also has the benefit of being non-polluting. Another plus is that the response from the campus community has been very positive.”

Elique, mind you, has had a few PR problems of his own. There apparently was friction with some officers over his take-charge style when he first arrived in June. Elique, a counter-terrorism expert, also was dogged for a while by reports of Big Brother student surveillance during his tenure as police chief at the City University of New York.

But, hey, a Smurf cruiser in Las Vegas? And a nonpolluting one at that?


We’re not used to this stuff here. Elique, at least, seems to be testing the outdated Sin City tradition of uniformed Neanderthals driving prowlers that seem to snarl -- and that definitely have a tendency to bite.

Whether it’s a cosmetic change at UNLV or not remains to be seen, although, come to think of it, we haven’t seen too many cop-bruised bodies on campus lately, have we?

Whatever the case, Elique deserves some credit for trying something new. He also should get some props for entertaining the idea of using brains rather than brawn when it comes to law enforcement.

Hmmm ... a Vegas cop with brains. What a novel concept, and we hope it catches on.


You know what, Chief Elique, you seem like a damned good guy all of a sudden. Here, let us pat you on the back buy you a drink.


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