Rep. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) introduced Tuesday a House legislative Initiative that proposed to amend the CNMI Constitution and make the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety an elected position.
If House Legislative 22-01 passes the Legislature, the question will be put to a vote and CNMI voters will decide whether or not they would like to elect the DPS commissioner.
House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) referred the legislative initiative to the Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee chaired by Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan).
Propst, who is a known critic of DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero, stated in the legislation that it is critical for DPS to be free of political influence and interference as enforcers of law and order. Unfortunately, Propst said, this has not been the case, as the present system gives the governor the power and authority to choose and appoint the DPS chief.
He said the commissioner serves at the will of the governor, serves as a Cabinet member of the governor, and essentially follows orders from the governor.
Because the DPS commissioner is a political appointee and serves at the pleasure of the governor, Propst said it is common to see the commissioner attending political rallies and fundraisers, waving on the sides of the road at political gatherings in support of the governor, and even greeting the governor upon his arrival from off-island trips, and then carrying the governor’s baggage tohis vehicle as he deplanes.
Propst said that, as long as the commissioner is a political appointee, political interference will continue to exist at DPS.