Promoted police major pursuing court action vs DPS ‘for fairness’

Camacho says DPS violated merit promotion program before
Lawrence M. Camacho

Lawrence M. Camacho

Lawrence M. Camacho was promoted to police major from police captain subsequently after he filed a discrimination lawsuit last November, but he is still pursuing his court action, asserting that fairness matters in the Commonwealth police force’s merit promotion program.

“It matters because when an individual is appointed or promoted to a position unfairly, even if it is earned, the fact that the unfair process was followed can have a distracting, destructive, or even devastating effect on morale within the organization,” said Camacho, through his counsel, Robert T. Torres.

In Camacho’s opposition yesterday to the Department of Public Safety’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit, Torres said fairness matters in the merit promotion program because when employees leap-frog steps in the career ladder over others, even those who are not jumped over are negatively affected.

“Fairness matters in the merit promotion program because failing to follow the rules in promotion procedures may also lead to corruption within an organization,” the lawyer said.

Importantly, Torres pointed out, fairness in the Commonwealth’s merit promotion program matters because it is the law.

“In fact, it is one of the foundational concepts upon which the entire personnel service system is built,” Torres added.

The lawyer noted that Camacho has seen DPS violate this basic concept of fairness in the merit promotion program before, has seen the courts order DPS not to engage in non-objective practices as to promotions based on merit, and wants this process to stop for himself and his fellow officers.

Torres said Camacho pursued his grievance and seeks judicial review of agency action because DPS and the Civil Service Commission did not act fairly in the examination announcement 14-142 process.

Torres said the court should deny DPS’ motion to dismiss Camacho’s case, and allow Camacho’s petition to proceed towards a hearing of his grievance because the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The lawyer said rather than encouraging a hearing to take place to further employee standing of and confidence in the merit promotion program, DPS instead chose to fight such openness with a motion to dismiss that fails to give the court guidance on the standard it is to apply, is unsupported by the facts pled by Camacho or any other facts, and fails to even support some of its motions with ascertainable arguments.

Last week, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho dismissed the Civil Service Commission as a co-defendant in the separate discrimination lawsuits filed by Camacho and Police Officer 3 Jason T. Tarkong.

The judge issued the dismissal order after Camacho and Tarkong, through their counsel Torres, and CSC, through counsel assistant attorney general Michael Witry, filed a stipulation to the partial dismissal of the cases.

The stipulation resolves CSC’s role in the cases. It means that the Department of Public Safety is the remaining defendant in the lawsuits. It also means that the judge shall hear Camacho’s and Tarkong’s grievance, including DPS’ motion to dismiss the matter.

Camacho, a 25-year veteran of the CNMI’s police force, filed a petition for judicial review of agency action and injunction against DPS and CSC for allegedly not selecting him to the position of director of police despite he is the only one qualified.

Tarkong, also a 25-year veteran of the CNMI’s police force, also filed the same petition against DPS and CSC for alleged discriminatory practices as to hiring and promotions after he was not promoted to the rank of a sergeant.

Camacho and Tarkong, through counsel Torres, have requested the court to issue an order enjoining defendants CSC and DPS from any further action relating to the filling of the director of police and sergeant positions until such time as the court may complete a review of the agency actions in this matter.

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

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

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