Some say that one forgets words as one forgets names. For Police Sgt. Ronald San Nicolas Dela Cruz, however, knowing hundreds of island residents and their addresses is something he knows by heart.
Sgt. Dela Cruz is proud to say he literally knows every adult U.S. citizen on the island, including those of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and FSM descent.
Born and raised on the island, Dela Cruz could easily identify local families. As Saipan slowly turned into a melting pot of different cultures over the years, the officer found that he could still manage to identify even those new to the island.
Dela Cruz obtained his “expertise” from his 13 years as summons and warrants officer for the Superior Court. Last December, though, he “deactivated” this skill when he joined many long-time government employees in retiring after serving more than 20 years of public service.
Dela Cruz served 17 years at the Department of Public Safety, but his accumulated overtime gave him credit for a total of 26 years.
His outstanding service and contribution “to the efficient delivery of justice in the CNMI,” moved the Superior Court, through Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja, to hand him a plaque of appreciation on the day he said farewell to the judges and court staff.
Associate Judge Juan T. Lizama was all praises for Dela Cruz. Lizama said the officer never complained and was very competent in his job.
“He was very reliable,” Lizama said.
On the day he retired, Dela Cruz also returned to the court a Nissan pickup truck that he used in serving summons since 1997.
Dela Cruz said he is proud to return the truck because it is still in good condition.
A JOB DONE WELL
Dela Cruz joined DPS in 1988, starting as a patrol officer. In 1989 to 1990, he was assigned to the then Division of Corrections. In 1990 to 1992, he was moved to patrol logistics and support section.
In 1992 he was assigned as summons and warrant officer and, because of his excellent skills, he was never removed from this assignment until his retirement.
Part of his job was keeping court orders and servicing all court documents to both parties. He also used to serve temporary restraining orders.
In 1997, he started serving the jury summons for the entire island.
Dela Cruz said, not without some hint of pride, that if the court gave him 200 jury summons, he would serve them all in just three days.
“I know the locals from north to south, especially the government employees,” he said.
Dela Cruz said he would deliver summons and other court papers from morning until 9pm.
He admitted that the job is not easy. If he cannot identify the person he has to serve with documents, he would research on his own. His technique is simple: Identify first the family side.
If he could not serve the summons to a certain person, Dela Cruz would go back to that person’s house or jobsite the following day.
In serving the papers, he said he would never go inside the house, but just stay in the truck and honk the horn.
“Never leave the papers to minors,” he said.
If no one comes out from the house, Dela Cruz said he would go back later that day or on the following day. Another option is to just go straight to the person’s jobsite.
He recalled that sometimes he would serve summons to 15-30 persons even during weekends. Oftentimes, this prevents him from joining family gatherings on weekends.
“I dedicate myself to my work,” he recalled.
He was quick to add, though, that he never neglected his family, as they were also his priority. This 42-year-old father of three kids is happily married to Dorothy C. Dela Cruz.
Hanging up his police uniform for good was a cause for mixed emotions.
“I feel sad that I would leave this place [DPS, courts], my second family. But I am happy because I will be with my immediate family,” he said on the day of his retirement.
Retiring also means just being at home and attending to his other expertise—tending his humble ranch at Katmelo Country, the clan’s place just behind the airport.