Security Standards At CNMI Governor’s Office Criticized

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Threats leveled by man outside building prompts policy review

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 6, 2013) – Friday's incident at the governor's office wherein a man allegedly made "terroristic" threats against Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Governor Benigno R. Fitial put to light a longstanding concern that the building does not meet U.S. Department of Homeland Security's security standards for state and territorial chief executive offices, press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday.

Demapan said that compared to other governor's offices, the one on Capital Hill has been "very lenient in terms of security measures."

With or without Friday's incident, which led to the arrest of the man who allegedly made the threat, the governor's office and the CNMI Office of Homeland Security have already been working with federal agencies to improve the building's security.

Marvin Seman, CNMI Office of Homeland Security acting special assistant, separately said that DHS' regular "critical infrastructure assessment" covers not only the governor's office but also the airport, seaport, hospital, corrections facility and schools, among other critical facilities, and comes up with recommendations on how to beef up security.

"It's a work in progress and we've been working with relevant agencies in addressing the recommendations. We are working to make sure the Executive Branch, the Legislature, and the Judiciary meet the security standards. As you know, there have been a lot of changes happening in the United States and other parts of the world, we have to work on security issues," he said.

Seman said Friday's incident at the governor's office "is not [to be] taken lightly."

"There will be changes because of the recent event. There will be changes in the security policies. The governor is the head of the state and there are standards that need to be met to ensure his safety and security," Seman told Saipan Tribune.

As of yesterday afternoon, the administration is not saying what specific changes will be made at the governor's office although they may include installation of surveillance cameras, additional door locks, and limited access doors.

Demapan, however, said these additional security measures need to be balanced with the public's need to have easy access to their government.

Police arrested Brian Kendall, 48, for going to the Office of the Governor on Capital Hill on Friday and allegedly stating that the governor should not resign but die. He was served an arrest warrant on Saturday in Papago on charges of making a terroristic threat and disturbing the peace.

The defendant also allegedly told the governor's senior policy adviser, Dr. John Joyner, that when the governor uses the back door to avoid the media, he will be there at the same time "and bash him with the metal pipe or aluminum bat."

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