High school break-ins and vandalism focus of House hearing next week
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Western District Governor, leaders of Fofo, Alataua and Aitulagi counties and school principals and staff are working together to discuss what they can do to bring those responsible for the vandalism and break-ins at Tafuna and Leone High Schools — to answer for their actions.
Several members from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) including Deputy Commissioner, Falanaipupu Taase Sagapolutele were present during the meeting.
One of the many issues discussed was how to put a stop to these types of incidents, which started years ago and continues today.
A House (Fono) hearing has been scheduled for next Tuesday, Mar. 19 to address the issue.
Rep. Manumaua W. Wilson, Chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, will conduct the hearing.
(Other issues to be discussed during that hearing include drugs found at LBJ and the Fagaitua Sub-station.)
The Police Commissioner and ASDOE director, Dr. Ruth Matagi will be the two witnesses.
TAFUNA HIGH SCHOOL
Tualauta Representative, Larry Sanitoa told the gathering that a a real solution is needed to avoid the problem from re-occurring.
In a Mar. 13, 2019 letter to DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson, a follow-up to the meeting, Sanitoa said this is the second time Tafuna HS has been vandalized within the past two months.
“While these break-ins are extremely unfortunate, as they are costly and a distraction to the good efforts of our educators teaching the students, you would agree that finding the culprit(s) and reinforcing the preventative measures (security guard, security system and more lights) should be a priority,” Sanitoa wrote.
He thanked Le’i and his staff for agreeing to continually patrol the THS campus at night as part of their efforts to help prevent these break-ins and vandalism — their presence will be an excellent deterrent.
Sanitoa said he will contact Criminal Justice Planning Agnecy (CJPA) director Leseiau Laumoli to seek funding for a new security system and hopefully enable the school to employ a security guard.
LEONE HIGH SCHOOL
Fofo Representative Andra Samoa, mentioned the same issue during a House session this week. She said she doesn’t feel that enough is being done to solve break-ins and vandalism at LHS and to prosecute the suspects.
“We need a solid solution to cure this ongoing problem and we need to find those responsible, to prosecute and face consequences for their own actions,” the freshman lawmaker told the House this week.
She insisted that the House call Le'i back to find out the status of the police investigation into the recent LHS break-in and the one last December.
She said there was another break-in last month while the police have yet to produce a report for the first incident in December. According to Samoa, this is very sad in terms of safeguarding school properties and bringing those responsible to justice.
“The problem that the school is facing right now is that students suspected in the crimes at LHS are coming to school every day as if they are untouchable and this is causing morale problems with the students and teachers,” Samoa said.
She requested that the committees responsible for DPS and DOE call in the DPS Commissioner and DOE officials for a hearing to discuss a solid solution to the ongoing problem.
Last month, Tualatai representative, Timusa Tini Lam Yuen voiced the same concern in the House chamber. Timusa said one of the recommendations that can help in addressing the problem is to install security cameras at each high school. He said that this is not new and those who are responsible for the crime think they will get away with what they did without being caught.