“We stick to the laws and the oath we took to serve and protect this country and the people..and in times like these, we put in the extra effort to be the best in what we do,” expressed the Chief of Patrol Fave Ngiramengior of the police response to the controversy involving the appointment of the acting director of the Bureau of Public Safety.
Assuring the public of the police’s dedication to maintaining peace and security of the nation, Vice President Uduch Sengebau-Senior said the chiefs of different divisions within the Bureau of Public Safety have met with the police officers in their divisions to explain the situation to them and to remind them of their oaths to keep peace and protect the community.
Some of the off-duty police officers, on their day off, chose to attend training on police ethics and standard of conduct. The Office of Professional Standards conducted the training to reinforce law enforcement officers’ commitment to integrity, loyalty, and respect toward the profession.
The controversy involves the appointment of the acting director in the absence of Director Cary Levitre, who left the country on July 29th for medical treatment. Director Levitre issued a Delegation of Authority letter appointing Valerie Ikesakes, Administrative Officer of the Ministry of Justice, as the Acting Director in his absence on July 28, 2023. On August 1, 2023, Minister of Justice and Vice President Uduch Sengebau-Senior appointed Deputy Director Richard Ngiratrang as the Acting Director, citing Bureau of Public Safety Regulations that state “the Acting Director must be a police officer holding a minimum rank of a sergeant.”
“The designation by BPS Director runs afoul of the rules and regulations because Valerie Ikesakes is not a police officer. It also creates a dispute as to the designation of Acting Director,” states Minister of Justice Senior in her appointment letter.
Despite the differences between the Minister of Justice and the Director of the Bureau of Public Safety, the police officers continue to work under their chiefs, doing their daily tasks, not affected by the “higher ups.”
“When there are differences among our leaders, we do not get involved. That is happening at levels that we, regular police officers, should not involve ourselves with. We stick to the law of the land and honor the oath we took,” said Chief Ngiramengior.
This is the second time within the last four months that the controversy involving the position of Acting Director of BPS has risen. In March, Director Ishmael Aguon was removed as Director of Public Safety. Vice President Senior took on the role of an Acting Director, a role she held for about a week. And while she was attending a meeting in Japan, President Surangel Whipps Jr. appointed Attorney General Ernestine Rengiil as Acting Director. Two weeks after, he appointed Cary Levitre, an American veteran, as the new BPS Director.
Mr. Levitre was in office less than 100 days after he was sworn in when he announced that he was leaving for the States for medical treatment. He initially said he did not know when he would return, but on July 28th, in his DOA letter, he said he would return on August 30th and appointed Ikesakes as the Acting Director.
According to the law, 34 PNC Section 5021 (b), President appoints the acting director “in case of death, incapacity or prolonged absence of the Director.” Rules and Regulations of the Bureau of Public Safety state the qualification requirements of an acting director. The law that gives the President the authority to appoint does not specify qualifications for the position.
The Bureau of Public Safety has been inundated with problems this year, such as a death incident at the jail, allegations of rape of a minor by another inmate, drug problems with police officers and inmates, and the doubts raised about the new Director Levitre’s claims in his resume.
Follow-up information on these matters has been hard to obtain due to Director Levitre’s refusal to meet news reporters in the past 3 months.
At the Senate Ways & Means Committee budget hearing with the Ministry of Justice, it reported statistics collected and compiled for different divisions, levels of performance, and challenges faced by the Bureau. Hiring of more police officers and increase in the budget were repeatedly said to resolve many of the outstanding problems.