CSN might help cadets stranded by constable academy closure

The 13 cadets of the Las Vegas constable’s former law enforcement academy might get help finishing their training from the College of Southern Nevada.

The cadets had already started their 21-week program on June 30 when Constable John Bonaventura pulled his office’s involvement in the Las Vegas Law Enforcement Academy’s state certification. That August decision halted their training.

An academy for future officers needs the backing of a law enforcement agency or higher education institution so graduates have the state certification, which qualifies them to apply for law enforcement jobs.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, a former member of the Board of Regents, said he has asked college President Michael Richards to look for a way to help the cadets.

“They were victims of this whole thing,” Sisolak said. “These kids have been hanging for a month and a half.”

The constable’s office has faced a variety of conflicts since Bonaventura’s 2010 election, which include lawsuits from former employees, sexual harassment claims and jurisdictional disputes with neighboring constables. Other episodes include a widely criticized pilot for a reality television show with deputies using foul language and a deputy missing a body while making a call to a residence.

County commissioners have abolished the constable’s office, effective when Bonaventura’s term of office ends in January 2015.

Tuition for the program was $4,500. Some cadets paid the fee; others were on payment plans.

Bonaventura pulled his office’s role in the academy following the resignation of Jason Watkins, his former deputy chief operating officer.

Before Watkins resigned, Bonaventura sent an email demanding financial information about the academy and warning he might withdraw his office’s role in supporting the academy. Watkins cited problems with other staffers in his resignation letter.

For the past month, Watkins and Bonaventura have looked for alternative means to help the cadets finish their training. So far, it hasn’t happened.

Bonaventura said Thursday he fully supports the proposal of allowing CSN to continue the education of the cadets.

In an email he sent to county officials Thursday, Bonaventura wrote that Watkins has not complied with conditions he would need to reinstate his support of the academy.

Those conditions include providing financial statements, profit and loss information, and a copy of a verifiable insurance plan.

Watkins has until Tuesday to meet those requirements, Bonaventura wrote.

“We are extremely doubtful that Mr. Watkins will meet the requirements for our sponsorship reinstatement,” Bonaventura wrote to the county.

Watkins said he is willing to work with the college and provide any help needed to take over the cadets.

K.C. Brekken, spokeswoman for CSN, said college officials are looking into the situation and need to talk to officials for the county and the college’s police academy, which is the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy.

The academy is a partnership involving the college, the Henderson Police Department, the North Las Vegas Police Department and the Las Vegas Department of Detention and Enforcement. Some cadets train for those agencies, and others look for jobs after graduation.

That academy’s next program starts in October, though it’s uncertain if the cadets would start in that program.

Brian Anguiano of Las Vegas, a cadet, said he wants to finish the program and become a police officer. Some in his class have moved from out of the state for the program.

“I don’t care about starting over, just as long as I get a chance to earn the certification,” he said.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.