DPS chief: ‘We must earn the community’s respect’

BERMUDES: CNMI DPS Commissioner Clement Bermudes is seen in this undated photo. Bryan Manabat/For The Guam Daily Post

SAIPAN - Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety Commissioner Clement Bermudes said “as a police department, we need to earn the trust of the community that we serve, and part of that is also ensuring that we have transparency on what we do.”

In an interview, he said “one of the best methods” to achieve transparency is “through media partnership.”

“We value that sincerely because we want the right message to go out to the public, and because the public deserves the best,” he added.

Bermudes said he wants DPS to “provide a high level of engagement and transparency.”

“But before we can do that,” he said, “we must earn the community’s respect. We must earn that respect. We show respect and respect will be reciprocated. I truly believe that and it doesn't matter who we deal with, who we talk with, and who we engage with, if there’s respect, just like I respect the media. The media plays a key role in our ability to show that the public's informed, but more importantly that the public is accurately informed.”

Bermudes said, as DPS commissioner, he is always accessible.

“This is the public's police department, not my department — it's our department, and whatever ways that we can improve and increase the services, … please let me know. We have a Facebook page for the department. If there are any tips for any crimes, especially, call 670-234-7272, which is the Crime Stoppers hotline. We need your help. It's our community, so let's do it together going forward,” he said.

Bermudes said, “We're working on ensuring that the front-line [officers] are equipped and trained to respond and engage in any casual conversation with our community. Because our community needs to be comfortable speaking with officers, … there [should be] no division … between the officers and the community they serve.”

He added, “We want to build a relationship where DPS can effectively communicate or share with the community what DPS is doing, and I'm all ears. I'm here to listen to any suggestion.”

A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Bermudes is a former Northern Marianas College dean of academic programs and head of NMC’s criminal justice department.

On March 6, he was designated acting DPS commissioner by CNMI Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.

On April 20, the CNMI Senate confirmed Bermudes’ nomination.