Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Constable’s Office employees fill void with creation of law enforcement academy

The Las Vegas Township Constable has come under heavy fire for a variety of accusations since January. Criticism first came after the Sun found a video on Constable John Bonaventura’s website that purportedly was being worked on as a reality TV pilot.

Last week, the Sun reported that a former deputy constable, Kristy Henderson, filed a sexual discrimination complaint against Bonaventura.

Despite all that, it appears something right might be coming out of that office, too.

Some employees have formed a business, Las Vegas Law Enforcement Academy LLC.

What’s that?

Jason Watkins, who works in the Constable’s Office, is listed on information for the academy as its executive director. He told the Sun the academy was founded because other training facilities are being mothballed during the recession. At the same time, officers who were laid off from the North Las Vegas Detention Center and other areas are looking to upgrade their training to qualify for different jobs.

“Agencies are hiring, but nobody is doing the academy,” Watkins said.

Enter the Las Vegas Law Enforcement Academy to fill that niche.

Is Watkins one of the trainers?

No. He just helped set it up. Like most academies, this one hires trained officers and others with expertise in different fields as instructors. One instructor, Watkins said, is Mike Sherlock, audits and compliance supervisor for the Police Officers’ Standards & Training (POST) Commission.

In the Nevada Secretary of State business records, the academy has the same address as the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office: 302 E. Carson Ave., Fifth Floor. Why is that? Is it right for a private entity to list the address of a public agency as its own?

Watkins said the Las Vegas constable sponsored the academy, which helped it as it went through the approval process from the Nevada POST Commission. That’s why he listed the Constable’s Office address as the academy’s. However, the academy operates out of Cashman Center in the evenings. Watkins said a change of address would be coming soon.

Is the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office sending deputies to the academy?

Yes. A record of that is on checks written from the constable to the academy.

Though the constable operates mostly independently – it is funded entirely from fees it collects for services such as serving legal documents and performing evictions – it must gain approval from the Clark County controller for spending.

The county controller approved three checks written by Bonaventura to the academy: one for $14,750 on June 4, another for $7,000 on June 15 and a third for $8,500 on July 2.

Bonaventura wrote “partial payment” and the names of five constable employees as reasons for writing the checks.

Given the closeness – constable employees set up an academy that the constable sends deputies to – is there a worry about co-mingling of funds? That is, is there a chance the academy might be using some goods, money or services from the Constable’s Office in its operations?

Watkins promised the two are entirely separate and there was nothing of the sort happening. Watkins said he didn’t get paid for setting up the academy and that he’s doing it because he wanted to help the community.

Hadi Sadjadi, listed also as a business officer with the academy, seconded that thought.

“This is not for monetary gain … but to serve the community at large,” he said.

• • •

On Aug. 3, the Sun reported that people within the Constable’s Office believed the office was gearing up to film a reality TV show, even though the office was harshly criticized for something similar back in January.

One deputy constable was repeatedly asked to write a few paragraphs about her background; she said she was told that was so writers could develop her character.

Clark County Animal Control also reported seeing a camera crew with a deputy constable at a July 18 eviction. County staff told the Sun the deputy did not tell Animal Control where the camera crew was from.

After the Sun's story ran, a Constable’s Office spokesman told Commissioner Steve Sisolak the video crew was taping a documentary for college students. Now the Constable’s Office has provided some documentation showing that a crew from the National Film & Television School in England rode along with a deputy for seven days in July.

Is it legitimate?

It appears so. There are some peculiarities in the report, however. The report lists July 2, 2012, as “Date Occurred." But it then says the film crew was with him for seven days starting July 9. The report is signed at the bottom and dated Aug. 6, three days after the Sun report. The deputy also wrote that he told Clark County Animal Control the identity of the film crew.

What about the reality TV show? Is that going to happen?

The constable would not talk to the Sun, but his public liaison officer, Lou Toomin, told Sisolak there were no plans for a reality TV show.

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