16 taken into custody during 3-day Christmas holiday
Of the 16 men and women taken into custody by police during the three-day Christmas holiday, none of them were charged with any serious crimes or involved in serious cases where someone was hurt or injured, what happened was the individuals had too much alcohol to drink and disturbed the peace at various locations island-wide.
Based on District Court information, the arrestees included 12 males and four females; and they are faced with various misdemeanor charges — such as public or private peace disturbance, third degree assault and property damage.
According to court information, the highest number of arrestees — 5 of them — was at the village of Pago Pago on Monday. These individuals, three males and two females, were taken into custody for two separate incidents.
The two females were taken in after they caused trouble as well as swearing, resulting in a male assaulting one of the females. The male was also taken into custody.
On Christmas Eve, last Saturday in Tafuna, two men spent Christmas Day in jail after they allegedly got drunk and then damaged a vehicle belonging to a person who got into an argument with the pair.
There was also another incident in Tafuna where men got into an argument, and two of the men damaged another person’s vehicle. The two men were taken into custody.
Alcohol was also involved in an incident in Leone over the weekend resulting in two men taken into custody as well.
All 16 arrestees made their initial appearance in District Court yesterday where they were charged and 14 of them have been released on their own recognizance and are to return to court early next month.
Court information shows that four of the arrestees are currently on probation from the District Court, and two of them have invalid immigration status to reside in the territory and therefore the two individuals remain in custody and have been referred to the Immigration Office.
(During District Court proceedings there is always an Immigration officer present who is called upon by the presiding judge on the immigration status of any individual who is not a US citizen or a US national.)
Deputy Police Commissioner Vaimaga Maiava confirmed to Samoa News that there were no major problems or cases from the three-day Christmas weekend and he is thankful that it was peaceful in the community and no one was seriously hurt, despite the misdemeanor cases involving alcohol. He also said that police continued to serve the community throughout last week and during the Christmas weekend.
Currently the Department of Public Safety is on its annual holiday enforcement program, which began last week Monday and ends the morning of Jan. 4, 2017.
(Samoa News notes that allegedly the roadblocks have been cancelled by the Police Commissioner due to the 3-shift schedule not being approved by the governor because of a large amount of overtime that would happen. Rather than adjust the schedule for less OT, the commissioner opted to not have roadblocks at all. Efforts to reach the PC for comment were not successful as of press time.)
Maiava again asked the community for peace and harmony as American Samoa heads towards the New Year 2017. He again asked the public not to drink or drive and if “you are going out there to party for New Year, take a taxi or have a designated driver.”
He also asked the community to refrain from disturbing the peace especially when the person is under the influence of alcohol.
(Original Samoan story in today’s Lali section of Samoa News edition)