Attorney General Edward Manibusan has informed all heads of CNMI law enforcement agencies that they are required under the law to provide the Department of Public Safety with a complete list of personnel who are authorized to possess, use, and carry firearms in the course of their official work.
Manibusan issued the notification in a memorandum on Tuesday after learning that DPS does not have any such lists.
Manibusan did not specify what brought the matter to his attention.
When asked for comments yesterday, DPS Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero said the AG’s statement “is somewhat correct.”
Deleon Guerrero said if a firearm were to be issued by DPS, then they would have a record of it. However, if a law enforcement agency were to purchase or acquire firearms from a vendor or some other source and it is not reported to DPS, then they would not have an inventory of those firearms, he said.
Deleon Guerrero said he had a lengthy discussion with their legal counsel about this issue on Wednesday. He said he concurred with their legal counsel’s advice to have Manibusan issue a letter requiring all law enforcement agencies to provide DPS with a list of the weapons they have acquired and to which law enforcement personnel these weapons are assigned to.
In his memorandum, Manibusan said such lists much contain the names, ranks, and badge numbers or similar identification of all gun-carrying personnel.
“By law, these lists must be updated promptly upon any changes in personnel,” he said.
According to Manibusan, the Commonwealth Code specifically states that “the head of a law enforcement agency of the Commonwealth shall furnish to the Department of Public Safety the names, ranks and badge numbers or similar identification of each person on the force who is authorized to possess, use and carry firearms in the course of official duty.”
Manibusan said the law also states that “upon the occurrence of any changes in personnel to whom this subsection applies, the head of the law enforcement agency shall inform the Department of Public Safety promptly of the change.”
He advised all agency heads and other persons receiving his memorandum that the provision of these lists to DPS is required by Commonwealth law, and should be done as soon as absolutely possible.
Manibusan said copies of such lists sent to DPS should also be sent to the Office of the Attorney General.
Manibusan’s memorandum was addressed to the Department of Corrections commissioner, Commonwealth Ports Authority chief, Finance secretary, Customs Service chief, Commonwealth Judiciary Marshals Service Division chief marshal, the public auditor, the OAG chief investigator, Senate sergeant-at-arms, House of Representatives sergeant-at-arms, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management special assistant, Department of Lands and Natural Resources secretary, and Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality administrator.