Two minority House members are alarmed on the spate of criminal activities that have happened recently, particularly robberies in Dandan including a homicide case in the said village.
Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan), who is one of the six lawmakers of Precinct 1 where Dandan is located, and minority leader Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), from Precinct 3, expressed concern on everyone’s safety based on the recent events.
Propst and Villagomez said the Department of Public Safety should increase their police presence especially in villages where it is needed most. They added the public has also the right to know of any heinous crime took place after DPS released information of Jim Nimwes’ death more than a week after he was killed due to blunt force trauma.
They questioned DPS why it took them more than a week to release information on what happened to Nimwes, who was then on duty as a security guard in one of the poker arcades in Dandan when he was killed.
“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,” said Propst.
Villagomez added people have the right to know if incidents like this happen. “You want to know who got murdered or if there are any suspects. We need to inform the people so they could be safe after someone got killed.”
“You don’t have to release any details but at least acknowledge that something happened. Like if a dead body was found, is this is a suspicious incident or if there’s foul play,” said Villagomez.
“This is unprecedented and I never heard of it before. A murder was committed but what happened was the public was informed 10 days later,” added Propst.
Burglaries and other forms of theft is also their concern, especially for Propst after several houses in Dandan were robbed, even in broad daylight. Even Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council chair Luis John Castro had been a victim of a robbery when their home in Fina Sisu was burglarized twice.
Propst said robberies even happen when people are at home. “Criminals become so bold they don’t care now if there are people or no. Where’s the police presence, where’s the patrol? We don’t see them.”
“What I do know is that there’s a lot of overtime for our officers, but where are they? Our constituents in the villages don’t feel safe anymore and 90 percent don’t feel safe even if they are in their homes,” said Propst, who added that some houses in Dandan Village are separated by huge distances.
Villagomez said that even Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, in one of their conversations, mentioned Dandan as a dangerous area. “I’ve talked to Judge Govendo one time and asked him, ‘what do you think is the dangerous village on Saipan based on the cases you’ve heard—whether involved in domestic violence?’”
“[Judge Govendo] told me, ‘I have to say Dandan. The past few weeks Dandan was a hot spot.’ And that is pretty sad to know it is all messed up.”
Propst said that their house in Dandan has a security system and cameras installed, and they have dogs, and a fence. “Once our dogs bark, I’m up with my machete and ax ready to go to battle. What a way to live. All are messed up.”
“We used to sleep with our windows open, to let the breeze come in. Now we have to close it and turn on our air-conditioning unit. We want to make sure all the windows and everything are locked, and the alarm system is set before we sleep at night.”
Villagomez said if DPS and other concerned agencies should just ask for more funding if they think they lack the money in fulfilling their duties. “What’s also funny every budget season is we have agencies that come and yell at [the Legislature]. They would come to us and say: ‘you don’t understand the hardships that we go through.’”
“They give their budget proposal to the governor. But if the governor submits his, they would say they are okay with it. They never say anything. They would say they are okay with the governor’s budget and then complain later.”
“If you’re okay to operate on this budget, then that ends the meeting. For me, what’s the use of meeting for six hours where the only that you’re going to do is keep the amount,” added Villagomez.