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Democrats pepper Nevada senator over constable bill

Members of a Nevada Assembly committee on Tuesday grilled state Sen. Mo Denis over his proposal to change the law requiring constables of urban areas to obtain peace officer certification.

“I feel as though this bill is now before us because someone did not stay in compliance with what they were supposed to do,” Assemblyman William McCurdy II said during the Government Affairs committee hearing.

McCurdy, D-Las Vegas, was referring to North Las Vegas Constable Robert Eliason, who has been in office more than two years without certification.

Two deadlines have passed for Eliason to certified by the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. He has said an injury has prevented him from getting the certification, and suggested to Denis, D-Las Vegas, that the law be changed.

Senate Bill 250 would allow Eliason to stay in office and run again in 2018 without peace officer certification.

Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, also questioned why the law should be changed because deputies are required to be certified before they can be hired.

“The manager would have less qualifications to do his job than the people that he’s managing,” Monroe-Moreno said. “How would we justify that?”

Denis also defended himself against insinuations the bill was written to aid any one person.

“If this bill was just about Constable Eliason I wouldn’t have brought this bill,” he said. “Moving forward, this would make sure and ensure that anyone running for constable would have that POST training before, so we wouldn’t have this issue.”

SB250 would require constable candidates in cities with populations of 220,000 or more to obtain law enforcement certification before their candidacy is accepted.

Only Henderson, Reno and Las Vegas meet that requirement, based on 2010 census figures.

Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell, who is peace officer-certified, spoke in favor of the bill Tuesday. He said he believed constables should be certified and noted that North Las Vegas will almost certainly have a population of more than 220,000 by 2020.

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said. “We’re making some inroads here.”

The committee took no action on the bill.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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