EDITORIAL: A transparent attempt to protect the North Las Vegas constable

Mo Denis, a Las Vegas Democrat serving in the state Senate, has taken constituent service to a new level in his shameless effort to protect North Las Vegas Constable Robert Eliason.

We told you weeks back how Sen. Denis had requested a bill that would eliminate the language in state law requiring urban constables — who deliver court papers, eviction notices and other legal documents — to undergo training in law enforcement standards and practices.

This comes just four years after lawmakers imposed the mandate in response to a scandal involving the Las Vegas constable. That measure passed the Legislature unanimously in 2013, with Mo Denis in support.

But now Mr. Eliason finds himself in a pickle. He was elected to his six-figure job in 2014 and took office the following January. Under the law, he had a year to complete the necessary training. But nine months into his term he requested and received a six-month extension from the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. That deadline passed almost a year ago and Mr. Eliason remains uncertified.

So here comes Sen. Denis, flip-flopping along with Senate Bill 250, which would rescind the training requirement for urban constables. “Currently those guys are administrators and don’t even go out in the field,” he said. In fact, that’s nonsense. The constable and his deputies are quasi law enforcement officers who carry weapons, make arrests and even write traffic tickets. Mr. Eliason admitted last month that he goes out on calls and is sometimes armed.

But if it wasn’t obvious enough that Sen. Denis’s proposal is a transparent effort to bail out Mr. Eliason, consider that the bill has since been amended to repeal the certification stipulation only for cities with a population below 220,000 as determined by the 2010 census. The population of North Las Vegas seven years ago? A little under 217,000.

This is cronyism at its worst.

Yet somehow this exercise in civic cynicism actually passed the Senate 15-6 and is now in the Assembly. It was encouraging when both Democrats and Republicans on the Assembly Government Affairs Committee this week expressed concern about the proposal. Perhaps all is not lost.

Lawmakers should resist this ill-advised attempt to change the rules for the benefit of one elected official who apparently feels he is free to ignore the law with impunity thanks to his political connections. In addition, members of the Clark County Commission should find some backbone, stop abetting Mr. Eliason and move forward to appoint a replacement, as dictated by statute.

Robert Eliason is making more than $100,000 a year in a taxpayer-funded job that he is not eligible to hold. What does it say to ordinary citizens that nobody seems to care — or, worse yet, that some legislators and commissioners are eager to use their power to shield him from the consequences of flouting state statutes?

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