May 2, 2011

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

April 18, 2011 Pohnpei, FSM-Dignitaries gathered on Monday, April 18, for a ground breaking ceremony for the renovation of the Pohnpei State Emergency Operation Center. The $117,979.25 project is actually already underway and the former police department is currently completely gutted.

The project was funded by a grant from the European Union through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the FSM National Government. Speakers at the ceremony indicated that the renovation of the building is the first stage in the grant process and that after it is completed a second phase will begin in which it will be fully equipped to serve any potential disaster needs that Pohnpei might have.

The invocation was given by Deacon Ioanis followed by the State Anthem sung by Marson Carl. Lucas Carl, Director of the Department of Public Safety gave welcoming remarks.

A highlight of the ceremony was the performance by Pohnpei State Police officers of a story song written in Pohnpeian by one of the officers. The story was of a young man asking his father about his life decision to be a police officer and the father's advice to him to be ethical and diligent.

Governor John Ehsa gave the keynote address followed by a speech by Andrew Yatilman of the FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM).

The renovation is being done by Pacific Landscaping, Engineering, and Construction, Incorporated (PLEC). The contractor also spoke at the ceremony. When he had completed his speech, the contractor, DPS Director Lucas Carlos, OEEM Director Andrew Yatilman, Kolonia Town Governor Marcello Peterson, Pohnpei Legislature Speaker Nelson Pelep, and Governor John Ehsa wielded the shovels for the ground breaking.

Deacon Ioanis delivered the benediction.

After the benediction a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactical) team demonstration was staged for the participants with the scenario of a dangerous "pull over" by a police officer. The newly donated ambulance pulled into the parking lot followed by a police car with lights flashing. An actor in the scenario pointed a weapon out the back door of the van after which the action stopped for a long period of time as sirens wailed from somewhere down the street.

Meanwhile the master of ceremonies told the crowd about the procedure for possible situations such as was being displayed. He said that the SWAT team can only be mobilized with the authorization of the Chief of Police.

Shots rang out and we were to believe that the driver of the van had just been immobilized by a sniper after which Kevlar jacketed SWAT team members approached and encircled the vehicle in order to secure it. Team members pulled the weapon wielding actor from the back of the vehicle and cuffed him.

PLEC is expected to finish the renovations of the Emergency Operation Center within 180 days.