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EDITORIAL: Clark County Commission may consider whether to eliminate constable offices

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani intends to ask her colleagues to consider eliminating the two remaining local constable offices. It’s a proposal well worth pursuing.

Clark County has 10 elected constables, most of them in rural areas. The constables oversee offices that serve various legal documents, including eviction notices. Ms. Giunchigliani has asked county staff to investigate the costs and logistics of having the Metropolitan Police Department take over the duties now carried out by the constable offices in Henderson and North Las Vegas.

The idea is not without precedent. In 2013, amid controversies involving the performance of Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura, the commissioners unanimously voted to eliminate the position. A grand jury in 2017 indicted Mr. Bonaventura on theft and wiretapping charges related to his time in office.

In 2014, Clark County commissioners enacted a number of reforms regarding the financial practices of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constable offices. The changes came amid concerns that there was little actual oversight of how constables used the fees they collected for performing their duties.

Yet the issues continue.

North Las Vegas Constable Robert Eliason remains in office despite having failed to pass the Peace Officer Training and Standards certification process, as required by law. In order to save his six-figure job, Mr. Eliason lobbied state lawmakers to retroactively change the statute. When that failed, he went to court. The case is currently pending.

Meanwhile, the Review-Journal’s Arthur Kane reported last month that Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in county funds deposited in his office’s account. He also accessed the account in casinos and video poker bars. Hours before Mr. Kane’s story was published, Mr. Mitchell announced he would not seek re-election. “The Nevada attorney general’s office has indicated,” Mr. Kane wrote last week, “that it will start a criminal investigation of Mitchell if the Clark County district attorney does not pursue the case, records show.”

Clearly, the county’s 2014 reforms didn’t work as intended. “There’s still an ongoing concern about how the money is collected and where the money is going,” Ms. Giunchigliani said.

Indeed, the current arrangement has too often been beset by cronyism and financial laxity. The elimination of the Las Vegas constable office was accomplished relatively seemlessly with little noticeable disruption. There have been few complaints or repeats of past indiscretions.

The county could easily do the same in Henderson and North Las Vegas. It would be a victory for transparency and accountability.

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