DPS chief defends police on non-release of information


Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero cited limited resources in response to two lawmakers’ concern on everyone’s safety due to an alarming rate of criminal activities recently in Dandan that remained unsolved, particularly the killing of a poker arcade security guard and armed robberies.

Guerrero told Saipan Tribune yesterday that Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) needs to understand that men and women at DPS are working hard with the limited resources— equipment, vehicles, and personnel.

“With less than 120 officers, we have to cover the entire island with limited resources,” Guerrero said.

With regard to criminal cases, the commissioner said they release information to the public that will not jeopardize the investigation.

“And that goes to all cases, inclusive with incidents that occur in Dandan,” Guerrero said.

Propst and Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) expressed alarm on the spate of armed robberies as well as the recent homicide in Dandan.

Propst is one of the six lawmakers of Precinct 1 where Dandan is located.

Propst and Villagomez said DPS should increase their police presence especially in villages where it is needed most.

Noting that it took DPS more than a week to release information to the media after the killing of poker security guard Jim Nimwes, lawmakers also stressed that the public has also the right to know of any heinous crime that took place.

The lawmakers questioned DPS why it took them more than a week to release information on what happened to Nimwes.

“Time went by and they only released information more than a week later. Why did DPS take so long and why did they not let the Dandan neighborhood know about it? If someone is murdered, you want information ASAP. This is a huge concern, to have no information and have it released 10 days after,” Propst said.

Villagomez said DPS does not have to release any details but at least acknowledge that something happened.

“Like if a dead body was found, if this is suspicious incident or if there’s foul play,” Villagomez said.

Nimwes was found with massive injuries in the morning of March 16 next to JL Poker along Dandan Road, where he worked as a security guard. The following night, March 17, a doctor at the Commonwealth Health Center pronounced him dead.

Last March 24, Guam chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola conducted an autopsy and determined that Nimwes died due to blunt force trauma. Police classified the death as a homicide.

DPS and the NMI Crime Stoppers Program only released information about the homicide last March 27. In that release, DPS and Crime Stoppers asked the public’s help for information about the guard’s killing.

Saipan Tribune then asked DPS acting information officer Jason Tarkong why the information was released only last March 27 when the incident happened last March 16 and that Nimwes died on March 17, but there was no reply from the officer.

Two armed robbery cases happened in Dandan over a one-month period. No one was arrested yet in both cases.

Last March 24 at night, a storeowner and his wife were injured when a masked man armed with a machete and a handgun that his believed to be a toy robbed the 7 Star Market along Dandan Road. The suspect, who was believed to be injured, ran away with undetermined amount of cash.

Saipan Tribune ran the story about the 7 Star Market robbery last March 27 after getting tips from the social media and interviewing the store owner. DPS and Crime Stoppers released information to the media on that same day, March 27, about the robbery.

Last Feb. 20 at night, a masked man pointed a handgun at a storeowner and sprayed at the victim with pepper mace during a robbery at LZ Market, also located along Dandan Road. The suspect managed to escape with $800 in cash. DPS and Crime Stoppers did not release information about the robbery.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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