Las Vegas Constable's Office could be abolished sooner than expected
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - The Las Vegas Township Constable's Office could be eliminated by the upcoming summer if a state lawmaker gets his way.
On Monday, a state Senate committee held a hearing on a bill that would abolish the Las Vegas office as early as July 1. Clark County commissioners voted in March to abolish the office at the end of Constable John Bonaventura's term in January, 2015; however, state Sen. Michael Roberson, the bill's primary sponsor, cited public safety concerns in waiting two years.
During the March meeting, some county commissioners said the office is no longer necessary and that its duties could be handled by a unit within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
After several controversies involving Bonaventura, commissioner Steve Sisolak said Monday enough is enough.
"There's just a general dissatisfaction from the constituents that have contacted us regarding the performance of the office itself and I think we need to have some security in terms of how the office is going to progress moving forward," said Sisolak, who did not attend the committee meeting.
Monday's hearing was held in Carson City and streamed live to an audience at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. In total, three people testified in favor of the bill and two opposed.
The constables of Boulder City, Henderson, Laughlin and North Las Vegas said they are reluctantly supporting the measure. Laughlin Township Constable Jordan Ross told the committee he is uneasy about the notion of removing an elected official but said he would back the bill as long as an amendment is included that would allow the county to reinstate the office at a later date if the county so decides.
"The legislature really has no choice at this point," said Ross. "They have to take some kind of corrective action. It's an unfortunate situation. There's really no winners in this situation."
Bonaventura did not attend the hearing and declined an on-camera interview on Monday. Reached by phone, he called the bill "a piece of garbage" and said it was simply a way to bash his office. The constable said he is supporting assembly bill 223 to clear up jurisdictional issues with neighboring constables, one reason he said the other constables are supporting the Senate bill. Bonaventura said he did not believe the Senate bill would get far in the legislative process.
During the committee hearing, James Kimsey testified in opposition to the bill. He said state leaders are trying to remove Bonaventura over personal conflicts, not the effectiveness of the office, and said voters should decide whether an elected official is removed.
"It's always been personality," Kimsey said. "It's a very sad thing because it's the voters who chose him. It's up to the voters to keep him or let him go."
Roberson said at the end of the hearing that he is open to possibly extending the July time frame. A representative from Metro Police said he was neutral on the issue, at the current time. No action was taken by the committee. State lawmakers will get the final say.