A profanity-laced pilot posted online for a reality television show pitch about the Las Vegas Township constable’s office prompted the County Commission on Tuesday to ask for an audit of the office’s finances and to question state laws that allow deputies to carry weapons on the job for one year before they are certified peace officers.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak led the discussion with a handful of constable deputies who showed up at the meeting to defend their office.
Deputies said the video was never meant for public dissemination and was supposed to be password-protected online. Constable John Bonaventura did not attend the meeting, and deputies said he did not like the video. Bonaventura appears in the video, but his office is not going through with the show.
The edited video, which the constable’s office did not pay for, shows deputies carrying out evictions and serving papers while using colorful language in some instances. One deputy identifies himself as being with the "police."
"You could not do a worse service to the taxpayers of Clark County," Sisolak said. "I just can’t believe you would be proud of this."
Commissioner Susan Brager said she was frightened that deputies who are not certified peace officers "could walk around and carry a gun."
"A job where you get paid on how many citations and what you collect is really not a healthy environment," she said. "The video was humiliating and degrading. Our kids go on YouTube, and I hope they don’t find it. It shows them once again why should they respect an officer that speaks with such a foul mouth? All of you should be appalled, quite frankly."
The constable’s office is responsible for serving court papers and carrying out evictions, among other duties.
Deputies provide their own guns and have a 12-month grace period in which to become certified peace officers. In the meantime, they can carry weapons without that certification.
By law, the constable is considered a certified peace officer and does not have to undergo any certification.
Bonaventura has opted not to get the certification.
In an email to the Review-Journal last month about this issue, Bonaventura said that running the agency is not an easy task and that he has not found the extra hours to become certified.
It takes 200 to 480 hours to become certified depending on the level of certification. Police officers require more certification than a bailiff or a detention officer.
"I will stick to my previous certificate with the (Department of Justice) and remain in compliance with the law," Bonaventura wrote. "No one wants to go to college twice to receive the same degree, now would they?"
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell told the commission that the 12-month grace period was set up for rural counties without a lot of deputies. He suggested deputies should not be allowed on the street before they have gone through the academy.
"For the past 12 years, we’ve cleaned up the professionalism of the office," Mitchell said. "That, I’ll be honest, has been destroyed in the last 12 months."
Tim Bunting, deputy director for the Nevada Commission on Peace Officers Standards & Training, said there are two 16-week academies for basic training that cover constitutional law, arrests, use of force, seizure laws and firearms qualifications, among other areas.
Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-455-4519.