As 29 new cops join police force
Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres wants to increase the overall budget for the Department of Public Safety by $1.2 million.
He made the announcement as he congratulated the 29 new police officers and three other new officers from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division and Quarantine Division, and Office of the Public Auditor, during a graduation ceremony yesterday at Saipan World Resort’s Taga Hall.
Sasha Marie Basa Pangelinan was named the valedictorian for the 21st DPS Police Cycle, while Elton Josh Blas Castro emerged as the salutatorian.
Iris Kay John Rangamar was the top gun. Felix Mendiola Hocog was the physical fitness awardee, while Jomalyn Santos Gelacio received the governor’s leadership award.
Joseph Taisacan Barcinas II and Athan Simeon Odoshi Taisague received the perfect attendance award.
Class valedictorian Pangelinan said she feels very honored receiving the award.
“I sacrificed everything I had. I always do and I put all I had into this academy,” said the 26-year-old daughter of Police Detective Catherine B. Pangelinan.
Pangelinan described the training as “19 weeks of hell.”
“I plan to marry DPS,” said Pangelinan when asked about her plans.
Salutatorian Castro is the son of Willihardo A. Castro and Leonora A. Blas.
In his remarks, Torres said they have to do more to encourage a vibrant economy that allows businesses to pay a living wage that alleviates stress among the citizens who are struggling to live paycheck to paycheck.
Torres disclosed that he is working with Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) to increase the local minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25 this year so that the people can have greater resources to build a better life.
“I have pushed for greater economic growth that has already seen more people employed for higher wages,” he said.
The governor said more and more people get into the workforce and out of social services.
He said more businesses hiring locals are finding opportunities on the islands.
Torres noted that the use and abuse of crystal methamphetamine or “ice” still runs rampant throughout the community.
Torres said violence also remains a problem for many families.
The governor said it is not enough to simply arrest drug users and dealers.
“We have to treat the underlying causes of this behavior,” he said.
Torres committed $1 million in his budget proposal to establishing a substance abuse treatment center to go alongside the newly established drug court.
Torres said he also asked the Legislature to provide an additional $1 million from the casino gross revenue tax this year to the Community Guidance Center to work toward treating this illness immediately.
“When we stop the urge to use, we can put a stop to petty theft, abuse, and violence that arises from addiction,” the governor said.
Torres said he worked toward increasing the overall budget for DPS by $1.2 million in his proposed budget to the Legislature along with more positions to increase DPS’ total force.
“I will continue to advocate for more funding to ensure that you continue to protect our people’s security without worrying about the financial security of your families,” Torres told DPS officers.
DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero, in an interview said for the interim, the 22 new Saipan police officers are going to be assigned to patrol section.
“That’s where they get into the system, learn actual fieldwork, police work and then from there they go up to specialized unit,” Guerrero said.
He said the seven new police officers, who are from Rota, will go back to Rota DPS today, Tuesday.
The commissioner said the training was long and hard for the cadets.
“I think everybody got together as one. They understood how to work together as a team and they put together as you can see,” Guerrero said.