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Police captain accuses DPS and CSC of discrimination

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Police captain Lawrence M. Camacho, a 25-year veteran of the CNMI’s police force, is accusing the Department of Public Safety and the Civil Service Commission of discriminating against him by not selecting him to the post of police director despite being the only one qualified for the position.

Camacho, through counsel Robert T. Torres, has asked the Superior Court to stop CSC and DPS from further actions to fill the police director position until the court has completed its review.

Camacho also asked the court to compel DPS and CSC to comply with the Personnel System Rules and Regulations and the competitive selection, merit increases, and promotion processes.

He also asked the court to end discriminatory practices and disparate treatment within DPS in its hiring, selection, salary increases, and promotions practices.

Camacho asked the court to direct CSC to review and publish in the Commonwealth Register the minimum qualification standards for each merit position within DPS within 90 days.

The police captain wants the court to vacate a certificate of eligibility from CSC, saying it contained a list of candidates that were not properly ranked and certified. He asked the court to order CSC to re-announce the position.

He also wants the court to stop DPS from paying the salaries of anyone promoted or hired for the post and to recover any sum that may have been paid out.

Camacho asked for distribution of any recovered sums to him for the costs of his grievance, including attorney’s fees and costs, and to the Commonwealth treasury.

According to Torres in the complaint, the CSC opened on Dec. 10, 2014, an examination announcement 14-142 “for the purpose of developing an open competitive and promotional eligible list” for the position of DPS director of police.

Camacho applied for the position of director of police during the announcement’s open period between Dec. 10 and 24, 2014. He said Camacho was the only one to apply during this period.

Torres said the examination for the position was announced a second time and a third time by CSC after Camacho and no one else had applied during its first and second announcement.

Torres said one other applicant, Pete Leon Guerrero, applied for the position during the third announcement for the post.

Torres said Leon Guerrero neither had the requisite years of experience for the position or for the rank of captain, the prerequisite rank needed to be held for at least two years according to the announcement, with DPS.

Nor did Leon Guerrero submit a full military experience report so that his experience could be appropriately considered with his application, Torres said.

Moreover, Torres said Leon Guerrero had previously resigned from DPS and had spent years away from work with DPS.

In contrast, the lawyer pointed out, Camacho has served with DPS since 1991, had earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and had served as DPS captain since 2004.

Torres said Camacho was ranked No. 1 on the list of certified candidates for the position.

On July 23, 2015, Camacho was interviewed for the position by a panel consisting of two non-DPS officers and the Customs director.

Torres said one of the non-DPS officers on the interview panel assisted Leon Guerrero with his application for the position.

Torres said in a letter dated July 29, 2015, then-DPS commissioner James Deleon Guerrero informed Camacho that “as a result of the recommendation from the interview panel, a decision was made” and that Camacho was “not selected for the position.”

Camacho then wrote a letter to Deleon Guerrero with the subject “Grievance Letter,” setting forth his grievance regarding the qualification of Leon Guerrero, his concern over the two re-announcements for the position, and a request for reconsideration

On Sept. 1, 2015, Camacho delivered to CSC’s Office of Personnel Management’s director a letter with the subject “formal grievance.”

On Oct. 29, 2015, Camacho wrote a “grievance” letter to the CSC chairman to reiterate his grievance, his difficulties with gaining an audience with DPS to hear his grievance, and the Office of Personnel Management’s similar difficulties in receiving cooperation from DPS regarding his grievance, all in an effort to have his grievance move forward.

On Nov. 10, 2015, CSC issued a notice of status conference for Camacho’s grievance to Camacho, the DPS commissioner, Attorney General Edward Manibusan, and assistant attorney general John Cook, stating that “this notice of hearing is a grievance filed with the Civil Service Commission on Oct. 26, 2015.

The notice further set a status conference for Nov. 24, 2015, which Torres said was not held.

On Dec. 14, 2015, DPS filed with CSC a motion to dismiss Camacho’s grievance for lack of jurisdiction. Camacho, through Torres, filed an opposition to DPS’ motion to dismiss.

DPS replied to the opposition.

On June 15, 2016, Camacho sent a follow up email to CSC and DPS requesting an explanation for the delay in the progress of both his case and the other matter before CSC.

Torres said neither CSC nor DPS, both of which were represented by the Office of the Attorney General, responded to his email requests.

On Oct. 14, 2016, Camacho sent again an email to CSC and DPS contesting the lack of response to his inquiries and the lack of progress on his grievance.

On Oct. 19, 2016, the CSC counsel sent a response that the commission has not authorized them to respond to Camacho’s inquiry on their behalf.

Torres said that in October 2015, the notice of personnel action for Leon Guerrero was directed to be processed despite Camacho’s unresolved grievance.

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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