DOC chief implements internal open-door policy
Acting Department of Corrections commissioner Anthony Torres aims to tackle head on the issue of low morale within the department, promising to implement changes at DOC that will reverse this.
Upon reviewing the transition report prepared by the DOC transition team for the Palacios-Apatang administration, Torres said learned that morale within his department is relatively low. This can be blamed on many factors, Torres said, including complaints falling on deaf ears.
“I want to make a change and I want to be that change for this department,” he said.
Since taking up the position nearly two months ago, Torres said he has implemented some new policies to tackle the issue, including a new open-door policy, but officers are still encouraged to follow the chain of command with their concerns.
However, if they feel they aren’t being heard and their concerns are not being addressed, Torres said he welcomes his staff to come directly to him about their concerns and issues.
“I want my staff to know that, ‘Hey, if you feel you’re not being heard through your chain of command, I’m here now.’ I want my staff to know that I want to help, I’m here to help. That is why I implemented my new open-door policy,” he said.
Torres shared that the reason behind this change is because his goal is to ensure transparency within the department, and ensure that everyone within the department is given the same opportunities and equal treatment under his leadership.
“If you asked me two years ago if I would return to the CNMI, I would have told you ‘no’ because of these issues. However, over two years ago, after visiting my family here on Saipan, I realized I could use the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired in my 20 years serving in various federal and state correctional facilities and penitentiaries to make a change here [and] that is what I’m going to do,” he said.
In addition to a new open-door policy, Torres has implemented weekly meetings with all DOC staff where concerns can be addressed, and more.
Torres, who was born on Saipan, began his law enforcement career in 1999 as an adult correctional officer for the Department of Public Safety at Halawa Prison in Honolulu, Hawaii and later joined the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Federal Detention Center Honolulu.