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Las Vegas constable says abolishing office would be ‘big mistake’

A Day With Deputy Constable Patrick Geary

Steve Marcus

Deputy Constable Patrick Geary prepares to enter an apartment during an eviction near Desert Inn Road and Joe W. Brown Drive on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. The resident had already moved out.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 | 4:36 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

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

Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura faced off with Clark County commissioners Tuesday when the board introduced an ordinance that could eliminate his office starting in 2015.

Bonaventura called the proposed ordinance, which would abolish the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office, a “big mistake” and said it would circumvent the will of the voters.

“If you put it under the’s going to be a big waste of money,” Bonaventura told the commission. “The services are going to go down. It’s going to take eight months for an eviction, seven or eight months to serve a garnishment.”

The ordinance introduction was approved unanimously by the commission, and a public hearing was set for 10 a.m. March 19. That’s when commissioners could take action on the item.

If the office was eliminated, its functions — they include enforcing evictions and serving civil documents such as subpoenas, property liens, court summonses and wage garnishments — would likely be split between Metro Police and private process servers.

“I don’t mind (commissioners) looking at it. It’s their right. It’s in the statute that they can do that. But there are a lot of other laws in the statute I don’t think they’re aware of,” Bonaventura told reporters after the ordinance was introduced. ”The commissioners need to actually read some of the laws because if the office is abolished it’s going to create big problems for the citizens of Las Vegas and the sheriff’s office.”

Since Bonaventura was elected constable in 2010, his office has been dogged by controversies, 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.

Last week, Bonaventura was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in an official vehicle.

In a Thursday email to news outlets, Bonaventura said he was under the legal blood-alcohol content limit when he was pulled over and that the arrest was the result of retaliation against him by county officials, specifically over a lawsuit he filed against the Henderson and Laughlin constables.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the headlines generated by Bonaventura’s bad behavior prompted a discussion of the role of the office, but she denied the ordinance was retaliation against the constable.

Instead, Giunchigliani said she wanted the county study to see if there’s better way of providing constable services.

“It really is about taking a step back and taking a look at why we do it this way in Southern Nevada. Are we overlapping duties?” Giunchigliani said. “Maybe in the long run there’s a better way to do business.”

About two dozen uniformed constable’s officers were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, and the commission made the unusual move of allowing comments from deputies in the audience.

Many told commissioners they were afraid of losing their jobs if the constable’s office is abolished.

“I personally am against abolishing the office. I think we provide great service to all of Clark County,” office services manager Charlene Morgan said. “I just hope you remember we are regular people trying to support our families. We don’t have a horse in the race as far as policy or trying to circumvent anything or go around you guys or whatever the issue is as far as the constable is concerned.”

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