March 26, 2012
The move is in response to a series of complaints from members of the community who allege threats from the commissioner and a petition from the employees of DPS calling for his removal. A total of 139 the Department of Public Safety's 197 employees from Saipan, Rota and Tinian signed a petition asking for the removal of Commissioner Ramon Mafnas. A copy of the petition was given to the CNMI Legislature and the governor.
When faced with the public exposure that he threatened security guards and a dive instructor and the dissatisfaction within the department, Mafnas said he welcomed an investigation. The Attorney General has asked the US Attorney Office to join the investigation.
DPS Legal Services head, Captain Pete de leon Guerrero headed the petition drive. The signers of the petition reportedly will testify to this statement in the petition:
“Mafnas' authoritarian leadership, confrontational approach, micro-management, and lack of faith and trust in the staff of the Department of Public Safety has brought a never ending fear of reprisal, humiliation, and degradation within our rank and file.”It appears that under the failed leadership of Mafnas, serious criminal cases remain unsolved. While the family, friends and public wait for justice in the murder of Emie Romero, DPS personnel have charged that Mafnas has interfered in the investigation. As early as February 9, 2012 DPS Police Captain Lawrence M. Camacho, chief of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, notified Chief Prosecutor Peter Presley concerning "questionable actions" in the Romero case.
The Saipan Tribune reported:
The incident happened when Camacho held a briefing on Feb. 7, 2012, with Mafnas, deputy commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro, Police director Aniceto Ogumoro, Capt. Pete Leon Guerrero, and Sgt. Tom Blas regarding the latest information in the Romero case.The commissioner also appears to have blocked witness statements in the case. The Tribune reported that when investigators attempted to get statements from individuals in the area where Emie was apprehended, a potential witness refused to give a statement saying that "a “gray-haired individual” (referring to Mafnas) came in already, claiming that he was the “boss of the police” and already took his statement."
As Camacho was starting with his briefing, focusing on the interview with the key witness, Mafnas allegedly interrupted him to tell him that what the investigators told him (Camacho) was a lie and that the investigators should re-interview the witness.
Mafnas stated that he had spoken to the key witness and that she had told him information that contradict what she earlier told the investigators. Mafnas then began telling everyone in the room of his interview with the key witness.
This prompted Camacho to tell the commissioner that he needs to turn in a self-statement of his interview with the key witness. Camacho explained that the discovery rule has to be satisfied, especially if it contradicts what investigators had already provided a statement on.
Mafnas replied that he did not owe Camacho a “goddamn statement!”
Hopefully, the interference has not allowed a murder to walk free. Saipan currently has no resolution to high profile cases including the disappearance of the young Luhk sisters, the Romero murder and a recent Garapan rape case.