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Chief Justice wants court marshals to be part of any future firearms training

[SN file photo]
Says recent certification of cops to be armed reflects the times we live in

Chief Justice Michael Kruse is asking DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson for an opportunity to allow his court marshals to participate in future firearms training and lethal/ nonlethal qualification sessions.

The request was noted in Kruse's letter to Le’i last week, in response to an invitation to attend the DPS firearm certification awards ceremony that was held at the Veterans Affairs Office in Tafuna.

Kruse thanked Le’i for the invite but wrote, “Regrettably, my calendar will not allow me to attend on such short notice. Nevertheless, I ask that you please give your officers my sincere congratulations. The responsibilities and expectations that have been laid upon them are indeed great.”

The Chief Justice said his absence does not diminish the significant regard he has for the momentous occasion, which, unfortunately, marks a turning point in our society and reflects the times we live in. More significantly, it is an acknowledgement of the existence of threats we no longer can ignore or wish away.

“It is for these reasons that I find it necessary to impose myself upon you and ask that you allow two of my marshals to participate in future firearms training and lethal/ nonlethal qualification sessions,” Kruse continued.

He told Le’i that the High Court is acutely aware of the pressing need to properly train and equip those individuals entrusted to safeguard our well being.

“One need only look to the recent past when my marshals were called to task in subduing the gunman immediately after he shot and murdered Officer Brown at the door steps of the courthouse on that fateful day. I appreciate any accommodation afforded to the High Court for this request,” Kruse concluded.

When asked by Samoa News, Le’i confirmed that he received a letter from Chief Justice Kruse, and said it's an essential issue that needs to be considered, especially the importance of safeguarding all government leaders.

The High Court of American Samoa employs five court marshals — and all of them are sworn police officers.

Le'i said he fully supports the request, based on the fact that police officers and other law enforcement have a responsibility to protect the lives and safety of government leaders, the whole community, and also law enforcement.

“As I’ve always mentioned in the past, there are a lot of… things happening, and I think the general public is aware. A cop was killed, a DPS sub-station was shattered, and a cop was shot in the face,” Le’i said, adding that those incidents aren't taken lightly, and he believes it's now time to move forward and fulfill the letter of the law, as it has already been written and in the books.

Last week, forty-one police officers were certified by federal instructor and trainer, Ernie Haleck, to carry weapons while on duty. Yesterday morning, Le’i told the House Public Safety Committee the only twenty-four police officers including himself have been certified to carry weapons.

Certified cops include two employees from the Department of Homeland Security.