DPS, AGO told to improve probe techniques

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Posted on Apr 21 2006

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo has urged the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s Office to improve their investigation techniques.

Govendo suggested that DPS reevaluate the tools and skills that detectives use in conducting an investigation and preparing affidavits in support of arrest and search warrants.

In addition, Govendo said the AGO should be consulted to guide police detectives in substantiating probable cause before submitting an affidavit to a judge.

The judge issued the suggestions in his written order that granted former acting police director Capt. Aniceto T. Ogumoro’s motion to suppress all the evidence seized during the raid at his house on Capitol Hill on Feb. 10, 2006.

On March 29, 2006, Govendo issued an oral order stating that there was no probable cause to support the search of Ogumoro’s house.

In his written order issued early this week, the judge pointed out that by consulting the AGO, the Department of Public Safety is “ensuring all the dots are sufficiently connected.”

“Properly preparing and executing a search warrant from its conception protects the people of the Commonwealth from unlawful searches and seizures, and upholds their right of privacy,” he said.

Govendo said an individual’s rights are protected when the government takes prudent steps in obtaining a search warrant.

“In turn, the search warrant is less likely to be deemed invalid. Ensuring the validity of a warrant before execution will aid DPS in efficiency and support its quest to stop crime,” he pointed out.

Taking such prudent steps will also assist the AGO in successfully prosecuting crime, he added.

“Most importantly, improving investigation techniques, procedures and affidavit preparation is the best method of protecting individual rights against unreasonable searches and seizures and their right to privacy,” he said.

Govendo said Detective Christopher Leon Guerrero failed to exercise due diligence in his investigation and carelessly omitted material facts that would have altered the judge’s finding of probable cause.

It was Associate Judge Ramona V. Manglona who reviewed Leon Guerrero’s affidavit and signed the warrants for the search and arrest of Ogumoro. Manglona then imposed a $1 million cash bail for the defendant’s temporary liberty.

Govendo said he finds that the lack of information in Leon Guerrero’s affidavit is not due entirely to intentional omissions, but rather “the result of a poorly conducted investigation that haphazardly portrays facts too weak to support a finding of probable cause.”

Police arrested Ogumoro in February this year after they raided his house where they allegedly recovered three rifles and 25 boxes of ammunitions.

The arrest of Capt. Ogumoro was made a day after police arrested his brother, Department of Public Safety range master Ambrosio T. Ogumoro, on allegations he beat up his wife and for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunitions.

The 44-year-old police captain was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, one count of possession of a weapon without proper registration, and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition. He denied the charges.

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