By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) Robert Guerrero, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, hired his stepson, Shane Mendiola despite his failed drug test and existing criminal record for meth.
Mr. Mendiola faced five counts of illegal possession, trafficking, and conspiracy to commit trafficking of methamphetamine in early 2016. Despite the drug dealing record, he was hired in the Torres administration to work with the Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Control division within the Department of Commerce; it is a law enforcement arm of the government.
The Commonwealth's laws require random drug testing of law enforcement officers. Under Title 1, Division 8 of the Commonwealth Code,
"§8602.Law Enforcement Mandatory Drug Testing. Random Testing. During each calendar year randomly selected employees performing safety-sensitive functions will be required to submit to breath tests for alcohol and urine tests for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. The testing will be done during on-duty time.
"(b) Number to be tested. No more than twenty-five percent of all employees performing safety-sensitive functions in each department or agency each year shall be required to submit to breath alcohol testing and no more than fifty percent shall be required to submit to urine testing."
Mr. Mendiola failed his random drug test.
His stepfather, Mr. Guerrero, then hired him to work at the DPS Office of Highway Safety, a federally-funded division. The Commonwealth's administrative code, which governs employment and agency operations, says this is not legal.
§ 120-10-101 of the employment policies contained in the administrative code under (g) Recruitment and Selection Procedures, in part states,
"A negative report for the pre-employment drug test must have been received for the employee before work authorization can be granted."
"(4)Under the Influence of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs. No employee shall be under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drug when at work, or reporting to work with the intention of working."
"(iii)Serious offenses. The following acts, even for a first offense, will result in an immediate disciplinary action for removal: ... (C) While performing and about to perform duties in a safety sensitive position, being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, in violation of subsection (c)(4)"
Interestingly, the 18th Commonwealth Legislature enacted the statutes relating to drug usage among law enforcement officers precisely because of the findings of rampant abuse and trafficking of methamphetamine among law enforcement officers in and before 2014. The legislature's intent in creating the statute states, in part,
"The Commissioner of the CNMI Department of Public Safety, who represents the largest law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth, has publicly supported a “zero tolerance” mandatory drug testing policy for all police officers and firefighters with the consequence of dismissal from employment upon the discovery of a positive testing of a law enforcement officer on the use of a controlled substance."