‘Equipment for DPS officers are bought via procurement process’


Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero said Friday that some equipment that police officers have been using were purchased via the procurement process and that he does not have the luxury to select specific brands favored by some.

“With the procurement process…my hands are tied,” said Guerrero in response to a question raised by Rep. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) during the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing on the DPS budget for fiscal year 2023.

According to Propst, he has received complaints from some police officers who wish to remain anonymous, but had met with him. Propst said these police officers showed him some of their equipment and photos taken of them.

“One of the things that they talked about was their belt. They explained how it was…made [of] really cheap material,” the lawmaker said.

He said some of the police officers had to use their own money to purchase U.S.-made or better brands.

Propst said he has also spoken to these officers with regard to having to pay to fix the damage to their uniforms or replace them. “What is the current rule with regard to the uniforms if they need a new uniform? Is it out of pocket from them? Or does the department pay for it?” he asked.

Guerrero said the equipment are purchased through a bidding system under the procurement process. The commissioner said if they bid out any purchase, they just give the specification and a lot of the equipment that are made in China meet the specifications.

Guerrero said that when officers say that they need a specific equipment, DPS helps get those items for them. He said it’s the same thing with uniforms. In fact, he said, they just ordered three additional uniforms per officer.

Guerrero said he does not believe that officers pay for their own uniform and other equipment.

Propst asked if there are specific standards that are in place in the procurement process.

Propst said he saw one of the belts, but he could feel the material was obviously not sturdy.

“So my question is, for procurement purposes, couldn’t standards be put in, you know, made in the U.S. only or something to that effect?” the lawmaker asked.

Guerrero said they tried that with vehicles, as far as making sure that they’re made in America. For some items, though, Guerrero said they don’t apply to DPS. “I’ve been told that I cannot be very specific enough where I’m targeting a particular brand,” he said.

Unfortunately, he said, a lot of these items are not readily available on island and they have to be ordered.

In his answer to the question of Ways and Means Committee vice chair Rep. Corina L. Magofna (D-Saipan), Guerrero said if the officers or staff had to go out and buy items out of their own pocket, DPS honors their reimbursement requests.

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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