Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 21 Oct 2017 10am

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    Saturday, October 21, 2017-2:28:59A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

DPS wants to hire more officers, asks for $10.6M budget

THE Department of Public Safety wants to hire more police officers and is requesting a budget of $10.6 million in fiscal year 2018.

Its current budget is $6 million while the governor’s proposal for FY 2018 is $6.6 million.

DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero told the House Ways and Means Committee during the budget hearing on Monday that the additional $4 million they’re asking for will fund additional full-time employees for the department.

In light of the improving economy and the anticipated increase in criminal activity, Guerrero said they are looking to hire 45 police officers and purchase more police vehicles and equipment.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero, DPS administration director Kay Inos and Bureau of Motor Vehicles chief Juana Deleon Guerrero appear before the House Ways and Means Committee during the budget hearing, Monday, in the House chamber.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

In an interview, Ways and Means Chairman Angel Demapan said it would be difficult to provide DPS with a $4 million budget increase.

“That is not something we can do because…we don’t want to jeopardize other critical agency programs like the hospital and education and the fire department. What we will do now is try to strike a balance in how we distribute a proportionate and balanced budget,” Demapan said.

He said personnel are essential to DPS, but like Gov. Ralph Torres, Demapan says he believes the current number of police personnel is adequate.

“As we move on down the line and development projects reach completion, maybe at that time we will also have the opportunity to see an increase in revenue collections. That would provide us with greater justification to increase appropriations for critical agencies like DPS,” Demapan said, adding they know for a fact that there will be a supplemental budget.

“One of their greatest needs besides personnel is to update DPS vehicles. For the committee, vehicles are critical components of every police force, and that’s something we would definitely consider when the supplemental funding becomes available.”

Demapan said during the hearing on Monday they noted the $2.2 million in DPS overtime costs.

“This hearing at least gave the committee the opportunity to see where they stand today. One point of discussion had to do with overtime costs, and we’re hoping that is something that they can correct. Right now, there seems to be no control of the OT for the current fiscal year. They ended up incurring $2.2 million just for overtime which is $2 million above the budget allocation for overtime in the current fiscal year, This a great concern for the House, and we asked them to revisit their staffing patterns and overtime schedules.

“I still believe that they can revisit their shift structure. Right now there are 16-hour shifts, but if they can bring that down to 12-hour shifts they would be able to realize some savings in OT. Compared to two years ago, the current fiscal year shows an increase of officers — there are 45 new officers and that number should have brought down OT costs, but the OT remains the same. That should not be the case. We’re hoping that this is something they can continue to address.”