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Proposed county ordinance would eliminate embattled constable’s office

Las Vegas Township Constable's Office

Christopher DeVargas

Sgt. Patrick Geary of the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office posts a notice of eviction on the door of a local motel, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 | 5:07 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

John Bonaventura, shown in 2004 as a candidate for the Clark County Commission.

After repeated clashes with the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office, Clark County commissioners are introducing a new ordinance next week to abolish the controversial agency.

The constable’s office most recently made news in January when it allegedly offered extra-jurisdictional protection to troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks. But the office has been dogged by controversies since John Bonaventura was elected constable in 2010, including allegations of sexual harassment, the filming of a profanity-laced reality television show pilot and engaging in lawsuits against constable’s offices in other jurisdictions.

During their board meeting next week, commissioners will introduce an ordinance amending county code to do away with the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office.

Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said a breakdown in communications and repeated bad behavior by the constable’s office has led commissioners to consider whether the office was necessary.

SIsolak said most of the duties performed by the constable’s office could be handled by a private company, with the rest being picked up by another county government agency, possibly Metro Police.

“Clearly right now there’s an enormous communication problem with the constable. He doesn’t communicate with county managers, with the commissioners, with anybody,” Sisolak said. “Every time we make a decision or a policy, he goes around it.”

The ordinance will be read into the record at Tuesday's meeting and then scheduled for a public hearing, likely sometime in March. After the public hearing, the commission will decide whether to approve the ordinance.

Any changes from the ordinance wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 4, 2015, when Bonaventura’s term ends.

The primary job of a constable’s office is to enforce evictions and serve civil documents such as subpoenas, property liens, court summonses and wage garnishments. Constables officers carry guns and Tasers, but rarely take people to jail.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick is also sponsoring legislation on that would change how constable’s offices are governed statewide, including possibly eliminating the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office.

In an e-mail sent to a Sun reporter Tuesday afternoon, Bonaventura raised several issues with the county’s proposed ordinance, including what evidence there was the constable’s office was not needed.

“How long do you think it would take the sheriff to serve an eviction or a garnishment? Months or years?” Bonaventura said in the e-mail.

Bonaventura said the constable's office strictly follows the law and asked, “Are the commissioners being vindictive because the current constable decided that it is long overdue that this office follows the law?”

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