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DPS Commish & Deputy go on record about Deputy job

Neither Commissioner of Public Safety William Bill Haleck nor Deputy Commissioner Leiseau Vaito’elau Laumoli agree with the attempted move by the Lolo and Lemanu Administration to dissolve the Deputy Commissioner position. Haleck also told Samoa News “the Deputy Commissioner position should not be a political appointee.”


In response to Samoa News, Leiseau said over the weekend, that there are three entities under the Department of Public Safety…. the Fire Bureau, the Office of Motor Vehicles and the Tafuna Correctional Facility and “it is the Deputy Commissioner who will be second in command in the absence of the Commissioner.”


In an earlier interview with Samoa News, Acting Governor Lemanu said the reason that he and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga decided to deploy Save Liuato Tuitele (Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention and Investigation) to DPS for 90 days, was for him to conduct assessments, not only for DPS, but also for the Fire Bureau, Marine Patrol and the TCF — to determine which areas need improvement, and also to determine if DPS needs a Deputy Commissioner position.


“Other states, they don’t have Deputy Commissioners, the second in command is the Chief of Police, but there is no Deputy, which is why we are considering it too,” Lemanu said, adding, “but we will have to wait until the assessment is complete.”


Leiseau, who will be retiring this coming Friday, pointed out that while Lemanu is comparing the territory with other States, “the problem is, in those states, the Police Departments don’t oversee their Fire Bureau, nor their jail — unlike our DPS. We oversee three separate entities.”


"Now, if the current Administration does have the funding to separate the Fire, TCF and the OMV, to have their own departments, then I would agree there is no need for the Deputy Commissioner… and I don’t think that will happen,” Leiseau told Samoa News.


Commissioner Haleck agrees with Leiseau, stating that because there are three entities under DPS, the Deputy Commissioner position should be filled and not be dissolved. Speaking of the Deputy Commissioner's position, Haleck told Samoa News “this position should not be a political appointee, rather it should be given to someone who has worked all his life as a police officer with the goal to be Deputy Commissioner, just like Leiseau.”


Haleck further pointed out this position is a career employee, not a political appointee.


“Leiseau started up as a police officer and worked his way up to Deputy Commissioner. How will this work for the morale of the officers who worked hard all their life, with the goal to reach, that one day he or she will be Deputy Commissioner? Yet, it turns out this position is to be a political appointee,” said Haleck.


He further stated that Commissioners come and go at the end of every administration, yet it's the Deputy Commissioner who will remain to oversee the Police Department and the other entities under DPS. Samoa News asked Haleck if the Chief of Police and Fire Chief positions are at the same level.


Haleck responded, “Yes, the Chief of Police cannot make demands from the Fire Chief, because they both hold the same rank, which is why there is a Deputy Commissioner — who’s there in the absence of the Commissioner.”


The Commissioner further agrees with Laumoli that if the Administration does proceed with dissolving the said position, then the entities under DPS should be separated and have their own Agencies or Departments.


However, that would not be a smart move as it will be costly for ASG, given that American Samoa is a small community, said Commissioner Haleck. “These new departments would have their own budget, personnel, administrative assistants and the manpower to run [their] own operation.”


Samoa News notes that Leseiau’s last day with DPS is Friday April 25, 2014. He has been with DPS since 1985, and this year marks his 29 years of service with DPS.