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Senate passes bill for Port Admin ‘security officers’ to have restricted authority for arrests

Senator Malaepule Saite Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate in their regular session Monday morning passed in the third and final reading, the bill that will “allow the Director of the Department of Port Administration to designate employees with restricted authority for arrest as security officers upon completion of proper training and certification through a local or federal police academy.”

The bill, which was introduced by Senators Togiola T.A. Tulafono, Utu Sila Poasa and Satele Aliitai Lili’o was rejected by the Senate’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and tabled for further review when it was first introduced last month.

The bill’s Preamble states that “since 9/11, billions of dollars nation-wide, have been poured into heightening airport security, while the Port continue to neglected. The Port is a vital government infrastructure, with over 70 percent of our Territory’s imports, more than double the cargo received at the Pago Pago Airport, entering by way of the Port.

“Furthermore, the Port generates millions of dollars, each year, for the American Samoa Government (ASG). Thus, ASG must elevate the level of security at all ports of entry of the Territory.

“American Samoa faces increasingly complex and specialized crimes that warrant the need for law enforcement services in the Department of Port Administration (DPA) to reinforce the protection of our ports of entry, both at the Pago Pago Airport and Ports.

The bill will allow “the Director of Port Administration to designate employees who have successfully completed a police officer training program as provided by local, state, federal or territory laws as security officers with arrest powers restricted to within the buildings, grounds and property that are managed, occupied or secured by the Department subject to the criminal procedures with respect to warrants and arrests set out in current law will ensure these officers act appropriately and safely in every situation.

“Upon passage of this bill, the terms ‘airport police’ and ‘security guards’ will be replaced with the term ‘Department of Port Administration Security Officers’ for consistency, so there is a need to amend the American Samoa Code Annotated Section 13.1030 to remove references to the term ‘airport police.’

“Section 1. Chapter 2 of Title 46 is amended to read;

Chapter 2: Law Enforcement


46.0201 Appointment of Officers

46.0202 Security officers - Appointment and powers

46.0203 Firearms

Section 2. Section 46.0202 is amended to read;

Security officers - Appointment and powers

(a) Employees of the Department of Port Administration engaged as security officers upon specific authorization and direction of the Police Commissioner, shall have all of the powers of police officers, including the power of arrest; provided that such powers shall remain in force and effect only while the security officers are in actual performance of their duties as security officers within the confines, control and jurisdiction of the Department of Port Administration.

(b) Authorization by the Police Commissioner of security officers granted in (a) shall only be granted to those security officers who have completed and passed a police academy, either local or federal authority.”

When the bill was first introduced in the Senate in early August, Acting Chairman of the Senate’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, Senator Malaepule Saite Moliga commented that it was in fact the same as the administration bill introduced in the Senate the previous week, seeking powers of arrest for employees of the Department of Homeland Security for violations involving drugs and human trafficking.

That bill was tabled pending further review, and continues to languish.