Bermudes to be named DPS chief
The Palacios-Apatang administration has officially named Clement Bermudes as its nominee for the position of Department of Public Safety commissioner and is set to submit his nomination to the Senate.
In a brief interview with Gov. Arnold I. Palacios last Friday, he shared that he and Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang have officially chosen Clement Bermudes as the successor to take on the controversial DPS commissioner role.
“It was actually Lt. Gov. Apatang who came up with the name. Now, we will be submitting the documents for Clement Bermudes’ nomination to the Senate,” he said.
When asked why Bermudes, Palacios said his administration believes that Bermudes has what it takes to put the department back together.
“We evaluated public candidates, but I think that Clement has the persona and the patience to work through the issues DPS is currently facing. DPS, for the past decade, has had its challenges, both internal and external, and we thought it would be good to bring in a new face with experience and credentials and the personality necessary to put the department back together,” Palacios said.
The governor also explained that it took time to choose a nominee because there was no room for error as the department is one of the CNMI’s most critical departments.
“There’s been grumbling in the community about this department and rightly so. We hold it to one of the highest standards. It deals with the community’s safety. I know people are wondering why it took the administration so long [to name a new DPS chief] but we needed to take our time to choose a leader that our people are going to be confident in,” he said.
Moving forward, Palacios said the administration is finalizing their nomination for the Department of Fire and Emergency and Medical Services’ commissioner position.
“We’re finalizing that, we’ve got several names,” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Bermudes is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. He was recently promoted dean of the Northern Marianas College Academic Program and Services. He used to be the chair of NMC’s Criminal Justice Department.
The previous DPS commissioner was Robert Guerrero. The transition team assigned to look into DPS gave a scathing report of the department, saying DPS has been suffering from low morale under Guerrero’s leadership.
“The Department of Public Safety was under the command of commissioner Guerrero for almost eight years. Based on the transition team’s interviews with DPS personnel, both past and present, the general disposition at DPS was one of low morale, brought on by retaliation, nepotism and cronyism, political discrimination, micromanagement, and training deficiencies,” the report states.