Las Vegas constable, ex-deputy chief look for ways to reopen academy

The training of 13 cadets who were enrolled in the now-shuttered law enforcement academy of the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office continues to be uncertain.

On Wednesday, Constable John Bonaventura left open the possibility that reinstatement of the Las Vegas Law Enforcement Academy could take place if certain conditions are met.

The constable had pulled his office’s role in state certification of the academy Aug. 7, two days after the resignation of Jason Watkins, his former deputy chief operating officer who ran the academy.

Without the state certification, which requires involvement from a law enforcement agency or college, training for cadets was halted indefinitely.

Watkins and Bonaventura have both signaled a desire to find a solution to the problem.

But both also are working separately to find their own alternatives.

On Wednesday, Bonaventura’s office sent an email to the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, signifying a willingness to restart the academy if certain conditions are met within 10 working days. That email also was sent to Watkins.

Among Bonaventura’s conditions: financial statements and bills that are current, a copy of a verifiable insurance liability policy, and indemnification of any liability of the constable’s office for the current academy.

“If reinstated, sponsorship will terminate immediately upon conclusion of graduation of the current academy class,” Bonaventura wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Review-Journal.

“Further consideration of continued sponsorship will depend on future circumstances. We understand that there is an ongoing academy at this time and that completing the academy is in the best interest of everyone involved.”

When Watkins left the constable’s office, he cited problems with other staffers in his resignation letter.

The constable’s office was abolished by Clark County commissioners in March, effective January 2015, when Bonaventura’s term of office ends.

Since Bonaventura’s election in 2010, he has had controversies ranging from a reality television pilot with foul-mouthed deputies to lawsuits from former staffers and allegations of sexual harassment.

Asked for comment Friday, Bonaventura said in a statement: “We want to ensure that the academy is operating within sponsorship standards that we all expect from a law enforcement academy. We don’t just give out our sponsorship like a glass of water; you have to earn it.”

Watkins said he’s looking for a law enforcement agency to work with in restarting the academy. In an interview Friday, he said he intends to start an academy for new students even if his former boss comes up with a different option for the 13 cadets.

Those 13 cadets each paid $4,500 tuition for the 21-week program, which started June 30, only to cease indefinitely.

Watkins declined to identify the law enforcement agencies that he might end up working with.

Tim Bunting, deputy director of the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training agency, confirmed that the office received the email from Bona­ventura. He noted that the issues raised, such as financial statements, don’t fall under the agency’s role in certified law enforcement academies.

If the constable’s office starts an academy, its curriculum and instructors will need to be approved for certification, Bunting said.

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