DPS Commissioner: Title \has no bearing on my job\
“Whether I'm a taule’ale’a (untitled man) or a chief (matai)… this has no impact on how I do my job” said William Bill Haleck, the Commissioner of Public Safety. The Commissioner was responding to a comment made by Senator Soliai Tuipine last week, during a Senate Public Safety Committee hearing on whether or not police officers should be armed.
Soliai said that Haleck was the first taule’ale’a Commissioner, and the previous Commissioners were well respected chiefs in their counties and families. His remark came at a time during the hearing when many senators were urging Haleck to slow down on making the final decision to arm police officers. The DPS commissioner did not respond to the senator’s remark during the hearing.
Samoa News initial inquiries to Haleck’s response to Soliai’s comment elicited a “no comment”. However, the DPS commissioner later noted, “This has no bearing on my job.”
Haleck said he's certain that having a chiefly title is a plus, however he said that you don't have to be a matai to perform the duties of a commissioner. “I am surrounded by Chiefs— I have Paogofie, Levu, Leiseau (Deputy Commissioner), CID Commander, (Lavata’i Ta’ase Sagapolutele) and other chiefs in this department.”
When asked if he has any intention of getting a chiefly title, Haleck said no. “I have no intention of living here and it would not make sense if I get a matai title and then move to the States. How can I serve as a chief when I'm not performing the duties as a chief should?”
Haleck said he understood that previous commissioners are well respected traditional leaders and to him a matai is just another credential. The governor knew he was not a matai when he was appointed as DPS Commissioner, he said, and he had applied for the position when it was advertised like every other directorship. “ I think Lolo knew being a matai had nothing to do with my capabilities to perform my job.”
Meanwhile a former DPS Commissioner, Senator Galea’i Tu’ufuli, pointed out this was one of the setbacks at DPS — the appointing of those with no law enforcement background as Commissioner. Galea’i stated among the reasons for the setback at DPS was hiring inexperienced people who knew nothing about police work.
(Haleck's background is law enforcement and he is a former cop and agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.)
The current Commissioner may not be a matai, said Galea'i, but Haleck is more than qualified and is well versed with performing his duties as Commissioner.