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DOC officer: director jeopardizing safety

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - A Department of Corrections officer is considering taking legal action against the agency after he was transferred to perimeter duty. This is the same officer that was mentioned in the death threat letter last month, with Officer Abraham Santiago feeling his transfer is due to a personal issue he claims the director has against him.

"The perpetrator is given more opportunity to get on me or maybe his friends or relatives, whoever is out there that's going to take care of me and going to shoot," Santiago said.  "I have no fear of the perpetrator, but I am disturbed with the director approach and handling of this damn case."

The corrections officer is even more frustrated after his recent outburst with the agency head. Last week Santiago met with DepCor director J.B. Palacios to find out why he was not being informed about the investigation involving the death threat letter that claimed he would be shot if their demands weren't met. While Palacios says it's still premature to release the identity of the two inmates in question, Santiago raised concern about his recent transfer to conduct perimeter duty at the far end of the Mangilao facility.

"I am compelled to ensure that I put him in an assignment that does not require him at all to come into any type of contact with any of our population," the director told KUAM News.  "And, of course, that's for his safety."

Another concern for Santiago is that he was placed at the post without a weapon, as the special order requires all officers at the facility to have one. But Palacios says he just never re-qualified to carry a weapon, saying, "So we have an individual that is not qualified to carry department issued weapons, and those are the things we are trying to strengthen out within the department."

Palacios adds that they are working to change some rules and regulations as the post Santiago is assigned to is near residential homes. However, that just raises even more eyebrows for Santiago.  He said, "For all these years that I've worked - 27 years of service - and then all of a sudden we're thinking about the public?  Why?  Why now? Is it a special interest on myself, or what?"

Palacios says the death threat investigation remains at a stand still as the two inmates have retained attorneys.

Meanwhile, Santiago feels the information being withheld from him is becoming a personal issue, with Palacios saying, "It's not personal.  He may feel that its personal, but the only person that is making it personal is him."  The officer noted, "I just want to get this over and done with, tell the director get it over with. 

"Otherwise, let's get it on."

Santiago says he is working with an attorney to bring the issue up before the Civil Service Commission and then in court.

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