Police commissioner says police cases all “goes through the process”
Cases being delayed due to police investigations, police needing more training, and drug problems spreading to schools, are just some of the issues that Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson, discussed during a Samoa News interview early this week, as Le’i expressed sincere appreciation to the community for their continued support of the Department of Public Safety, as the territory’s celebrates Police Week.
There have been questions and criticisms from lawmakers and others in the community for delay in police investigation of cases. Le’i, who took over the police commissioner post in January this year, acknowledged the concerns and questions raised on cases investigated by police.
However, Le’i said, “Everything goes through the process. People have rights. Cops not only enforce the law but also uphold people’s individual freedom and rights.”
And last month, a Senate committee held a hearing to find out more information about the drug problem in the territory that is spreading to the schools. The House raised the same drug problem spreading into schools, during its hearing in March.
“There’s a lot of drugs out there and it has spread to schools. We’re so concerned about the kids — the students,” Le’i said and warned those involved in drugs: “We will catch you, arrest you, and submit you for prosecution” to the Attorney General’s Office.
Among the cadets attending the current 25th Police Academy are 8 officers, who will be assigned to schools and Le’i said, “Their primary job is during school hours” and after school, they will work in the regular police force.
The police force is so short staffed, that Le’i says he has pulled staff from MSCAP and even those from Marine Patrol to help and this is the reason why the officers, who will be assigned to schools, will lend a hand after school hours and over the weekend.
“Cops should be versatile in everything that they do,” Le’i said, adding other cadets graduating from the police academy will help with the police force staff shortage.
The police commissioner then revealed that DPS is working on getting federal grants, through the ASG Criminal Justice Planning Agency, for another police academy.
He reiterated the importance of training the police force, adding that “I will not rest until I can get all of the training done” for officers, who work long hours, to ensure the community is safe every day.
“Cops must be trained so they are prepared and ready to respond when they are in need to preserve law and order and peace in the community,” he said. “You want to feel safe and secure.
“The general public must believe in the police officers whose job is to protect and serve and we need to be out there for the public,” Le’i said. “We need to make sure that the general public knows, they feel safe on the road, they feel safe in school, they feel safe at home. And that’s in any society, not just in American Samoa.”
He expressed his sincere appreciation and thanks to the general public for its continued support of the men and women in the police force. “The communities have been so kind, in my view, are supportive of what we do. I just ask that the community continue with their prayers and support for our officers,” he said.
Le’i, who has been seen by many in the community working on the road and in the community, reiterated that he is out there to help the cops as there is a shortage of manpower in the police force and that the community does not need to worry about him.
“I wish we had a lot of cops, then I’ld switch modes, but I can’t tell our officers to go out there, while I sit in the comfort of my office,” he said, and thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga and the Lolo administration for their continued support of DPS.