Las Vegas Detective Steve Riback Sets The Record Straight On YWN


lvcop1.jpgThe following was written by Las Vegas Police Detective Steve Riback, an observant Orthodox Jew and submitted to YWN after reading comments posted on yesterdays story (HERE). [A federal judge ruled that the department’s no-beard policy violated the First Amendment right of religious freedom]

Let me set the record straight on many issues raised on this site about my case.

1. Those of you with the opinion that I should of kept quiet or gone with the status quo certainly are entitled to your opinion. My personal opinion is that we as Jews can not sit idly by while others try to force us into assimilation, we do this at such an alarming rate as it is. In addition, when do I draw the line, when they force me to eat treif (eh, it’s just treif, don’t rock the boat) or work Shabbos when I have well-established seniority for those days off (who cares, it’s just Shabbos, we’re Jews, we don’t like conflict and don’t bring attention to ourselves. You may decide to stay quiet, I have decided that I will most certainly speak up!!!

2. There are 5 policies that have changed as a result of me pointing

out inconsistencies and the department attempting to cover things up. Also, religion (other then Judaism) is so pervasive throughout my department. This was never an issue until a Jewish guy attempted to wear a beard and head covering.

3. I knew the rules when I started working on the department but the law does not say you can never change your beliefs, values, religion, etc. That argument would never allow a female officer to become pregnant while being employed or an officer getting injured on the job from ever working again. Both circumstances should of known the rules when they applied that being pregnant or injured would preclude you from performing the duties of the job.

4. I asked to wear ANY headcovering (baseball cap and even a department issued police hat) and was denied both. In addition, the department allows medical beards to worn. What is baffling is that I was denied things that WERE ALREADY ALLOWED for others. That can’t be any clearer for discrimination. You may refer to as me being pushy to point this out, I couldn’t disagree more!

5. I became observant through Chabad and am forever indebted for them welcoming me and igniting a spark in me. I took this on because I am a Jew and standing up for principles of our faith along with the principles of the Constitution.

6. The ACLU was the ONLY organization that assisted me through this entire event. There is a lot of heartburn for them by others but they stood (and proudly continue to) stand along side me during this fight. I only have the deepest respect for the organization from what I have directly seen, not what I caught in a 20 second snipit on tv or heard on the radio about the organization. I have walked a mile in these shoes, how about you?

7. I asked for an accommodation to wear a beard and head covering. Both items are already allowed on the department currently so to say that my requests are somehow underminding uniformity and are unreasonable requests simply don’t hold water. I am all for uniformity but the department destroyed that aspect on their own when they allowed medical beards.

Finally, I realize that I essentially work in an environment that I sued based on them not adhering to the U.S. Constitution and that my career is most likely soured by my choice. I was raised to stand up for things I believe in and to speak up when things aren’t right. That is what I am doing and I encourage you all to always support those people who do. It is a fundamental right and something we should all be proud of the ability of speaking up and taking action while living in this great country with the amazing freedoms we all have. One of the best is the freedom to practice our religion. As appealing as Afghanistan sounds, we all know that when it comes to religious freedoms, they come up a tad short in that department.


  1. Kol HaKavod for standing up for your (Jewish) principles. But… Ultimately, we ARE living in galut, and the better answer would be to transfer your skills to Israel’s police dept. (where they are SERIOUSLY in need of moral, principled, b’nai Torah on the police force.) Chazak!

  2. Steve, I think what you did is an outstanding service to Yiddishkeit. Keep up the good work, and don’t be discouraged by the occasional critic in this blog. Some of the readers here are quite intolerant, and use this avenue to bash their fellow Yidden. Instead of using our time to salute important accomplishments like yours, they sound off their Sinas Chinum. Hashem yerachem!

  3. It is because of people like you that Judaism has survived thus far. Thank you for doing this important work for all of us at your personal expense. I am forever grateful.

  4. Reb Steve..kol hakovod to you. I’m not a lawyer, but the less you talk out of court the better it usually is..your opposition is waiting to trip you up on one wrong thing you say.

    We all should take note before we bash people on a forum, they might be reading it ( or their family members might be).

    Isn’t the point of an (undercover) detective to look different, to be able to fit it, if all detective look too much alike they will ruin it for themselves.

    Either way, you’re welcome here in Lakewood, we can use some help in solving/preventing crimes in our area.

  5. May Hashem bless you Steve.

    You did the right thing!

    While I have my reservations about the ACLU, I must say they did a great job here and I commend them for that.

    I hope your colleagues in the LVPD will learn to respect you, unlike the NYPD where Orthodox MOS are ridiculed by their brothers in uniform via poisonous RANTS.

  6. to Reb Detective Steve Riback t’a’my’vs..what can we say, only ‘yevorecrecha hashem v’yismaraycho, yoeir hashem panov aylecho vicihneko, yiso hashem panove aylecho vyoseim lcho sholom’ (mir is kohein)..hashem should protect you and you should catch alot of #1 aynodmilvado1.. assuming you also live in ‘galus’ as you say ‘we live’ we say, you have unmigitated chutzph (transfering this term from somebody who gave it to me on other place in coffee room so we are allowed to pass it on..)to sit here in what you galous as opposed to eretz yisroel, and tell somebody else to go there .what ever you do why dont you go..(we are posting this here since we see you read these posts…

  7. Kol Hakavod for standing up for your right to religious freedom. People speak out for chumras to fellow jews, but don’t buck the system when it’s warped by non-jews. BTW, Steve, I have seen this grammatical error before: it is not “should of” it is “should have”.
    I don’t mean it in a condescending way, I just want to educate the world at large.

  8. B”H

    As someone who got a sizable out-of-court judgment for discrimination against me within the University of Nevada system, I understand exactly what it takes to go through the process, how you have to fight, simultaneously to keep your professional standards high, your head low, and weather the horrible harassment that comes from being Jewish in Nevada–I am so proud of you!!!

    It isn’t only about assimilation, it is also about hate. We cannot let someone hate us and treat us with disrespect and unkindness without answering them.

    Yes, we are in Galut (Nevada being the galut of galut!), but we are JEWS, and no matter where we are we are commanded to FIGHT AMLEK and PURSUE JUSTICE.


  9. Why are not Jewish organizations supporting him? This is mesirat nefesh. It’s easy to make chumras in Lakewood and dress as one pleases there with no negative consequences – he is making a major sacrifice. We should be humbled by him.

  10. Steve, I responded to you on another thread; however I will just repost it here.

    Steve u said..
    “My personal opinion is that we as Jews can not sit idly by while others try to force us into assimilation, we do this at such an alarming rate as it is.”

    Nobody is forcing u to assimilate. They just want u to adhere to dept. guidelines. I also don’t think anybody is forcing u to eat traif. There are plenty of frum business people that have to go out w/ non-jewish colleages to traif restaraunts and eat salad or vegen.

    As far as some of the double standards are concerned regarding a beard and a yarlmuka..

    You are right. It definitaly exist everywhere. Why? Because we are in golus. Therefore we need to choose our battles carefully.

    U wrote
    “That argument would never allow a female officer to become pregnant while being employed or an officer getting injured on the job from ever working again. Both circumstances should of known the rules when they applied that being pregnant or injured would preclude you from performing the duties of the job.”

    I agree with u partly on the female argument but on a LOD injury? I don’t get the comparison. Injuring yourself while in the scope of ur employment, you did’nt choose to get injured and change ur circumstances. And here too, if you can no longer due the job u are forced to retire on a disability pension and can no longer work again, (as a cop).

    As far as Shabbos goes, I don’t know what to tell u. If u have that kind of seniority and ur not getting it, then it becomes a PBA issue. If u would have approached it that way u may have gotten it too. That they understand. Once u start bringing in religious issues, u will be resisted at every turn. So if bringing it up as a PBA issue would have gotten u shabbos but no yarlmuka and beard, I would see that as a victory.
    This whole stand up for my rights is very dangerous. While we should not allow ourselves to be trampled on, we are still in golus and it is scary how some people forget that.

    Steve, as a cop, u of all people should understand that there are ways of getting things without people realizing that they gave it to u.
    Also, u went to the ACLU. How many criminals have they helped free. Everyone of those crooks is a potential cop killer. I also don’t think they were out to help u as much as it was just another tool to fight against law enforcement.

    I wish u the best of luck. You’re gonna need it.

  11. to hnbny:

    i dont know what precinct you work in but every precint i’ve been in so far from the academy forward has had no problems with accomodating my jewish needs and no cop that i’ve ever come accross has ever treated me with anything but respect.

    it’s based on the context of your charachter, not the color of your skin

    i met steve on patrol and i told him if things dont work out in vegas he would always be welcome in NY.

    he’s doing the right thing

  12. as a respecting PERSON i tottaly agree with him. he should be alowed were a headcovering and beard, i mean America is known for it’s freedom, and he should have it! and fighting his case is an act of freedom we should support that . i mean come on,put your self in steve’s shoes how would you feel,your job is on the line everybody is telling lies aboute you and all you wanna do is were a hat ! oh, and one of thouse lies r that he dose fieldcases it’s just a desk job! and you can’t pull, athis beard it’s very close. oh, and mirkwood310 you lied he works in an office how can you meet him on patrol?! all i’m saying is he is a strong person and shouldn’t be gossiped about so give him a break! thanx