The 23rd CNMI Police Academy kicked off on Saipan on Monday with 34 cadets, including two Judiciary court marshals. Notably, there was no cadet from Tinian and Rota.
It is also the first time in CNMI police cycle history that there are court marshals mixed into the academy, Saipan Tribune learned.
Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jacqueline Rae Shepard said the academy will run from April 16 through July 14, with graduation on July 18.
Shepard said there were actually 80 applicants and the 34 were selected from that pool.
She said everyone goes through the same process to become a cadet. “Any applications we received would still have to meet the qualifications,” Shepard said.
She said no applications were received from Tinian or Rota.
“Those police departments will conduct their own academies,” said Shepard when asked why Tinian and Rota DPS are not included.
Saipan Tribune learned that Tinian and Rota DPS are indeed planning to have their own separate police academies.
Tinian DPS director Matthew Masga said yesterday that one of the reasons why they are planning to do that is because DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero told them that Tinian DPS should shoulder the expenses of sending cadets to the 23rd police academy on Saipan.
Doing that—sending about 10 to 12 Tinian cadets to the academy on Saipan—will cost Tinian DPS $220,000, Masga said.
Masga said that whenever Tinian DPS sends cadets to the police academy, it’s always been DPS Saipan that would shoulder all the costs. “But this is the first time they told us to shoulder all the costs and I cannot afford to send 12 people to Saipan. [I may] as well have [the academy] on Tinian,” he said.
He declined to specify Guerrero’s reason for the new DPS policy, but estimated a savings of $120,000 for holding a police academy on Tinian.
At the same time, Masga pointed out that the 10 police positions are numbers from the governor’s office and are embedded in the 2018 budget but have not been funded yet.
“That’s one reason why I could not send my cadets to the academy and I have not hired anyone yet,” he said, adding that the positions have been identified but are zero funded.
The Tinian DPS director said he has been working for the last two months with the Tinian delegation on how to fund the 10 positions.
Masga also disclosed that Guerrero wrote him that Tinian DPS will shoulder all the costs to send 10 cadets to Saipan for the academy.
“My operations for 2018 for Tinian DPS is…minimal. I have enough to run the DPS now as a whole operations but I could not afford to send 10 to 12 people to Saipan,” he said.
Masga said he does not want to risk the financial burden associated with sending 10 to 12 cadets to Saipan.
Sending 10 cadets to Saipan, the director said, will cost Tinian DPS $220,00 because they have to consider renting two houses which costs $15,000, renting two vans, which translates to $6,000 for five months, paying costs for overtime, equipment, including uniforms and guns.
With that burden, Masga prefers having an academy on Tinian.
He said they have sat down already in a couple of meetings with Tinian Mayor Joey San Nicolas, the Tinian and Agrihan Legislative Delegation, and Northern Marianas College.
Masga is targeting that their academy will start on July 1, 2018. “I will be doing the same concept. Whatever the criteria for Saipan academy it will be the same thing for Tinian,” said the director, adding that he will also invite Division of Fish and Wildlife, Customs, and other law enforcements on Tinian to join the academy.
Masga would still need Guerrero’s assistance after the Tinian cadets graduate because they would have to go through on-the-job training on Saipan, possibly this November.
Masga said the mayor has to sign an agreement with NMC so that all courses taken on Tinian will be accredited, so the graduates can pursue their associates degrees at a later date.
Tinian DPS currently has 21 police officers, including Masga.