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New acting police chief ready to move forward

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Acting Police Chief Ricardo Leon Guerrero says he's ready to move the men and women of the Guam Police Department forward in light of the recent criticism of the agency in the last week.  "I personally feel that the community has never lost confidence in the police department," he told KUAM News.  "We are a very professional organization and we have competent staff in this department, and with that its business as usual."

But business as usual for the new acting chief also means cleaning up things left behind by his predecessor, the recently retired police chief Paul Suba. Leon Guerrero wouldn't give his take on whether police were right in pursuing and obtaining a search warrant to raid the KUAM Studios in Harmon, but says he had no part in authorizing the search.  "The investigation is still ongoing for the missing document; however, because there's civil litigation, I prefer not to comment any further," he stated. 

Despite Attorney General's Office's Spokesperson Eric Palacios saying his agency was neither consulted nor provided guidance to GPD regarding the search warrant on KUAM, the new chief, like Suba, maintains otherwise.  "One of the AGs was confronted and informed of the operation," he asserted.

The new top brass says the focus now turns to the subject of all the recent controversy, Police Officer Trainee John Edwards, who is no longer the department's spokesperson, but is now assigned to the Dededo Precinct for on-the-job training. "We are waiting for all his files and from there once we receive them then we will take appropriate action," said Leon Guerrero.  "We're reviewing all his documents and should there be a need to make any corrections we will do so."

While seven other police officer trainees who carry the same status as Edwards were doing physical training today in Tiyan and have spent their days getting a feel for being a recruit, Edwards dons the GPD uniform, showcasing a badge and carrying a department-issued firearm.  

Acting Chief Leon Guerrero is adamant Edwards isn't getting special treatment and is on probationary status.

GPD Captain Tim Santos says because of Edwards' prior experience in the Arizona Police Department as a police officer, officials took into account his training and skills.  "Right now, Police Trainee Edwards is exactly that - a trainee.  He's a probationary employee and they are subject to termination at any time.  Should there be any discrepancies or things that come up to light before he completes his process, then he can be terminated."

And the Department of Administration is now trying to determine if there were discrepancies in the hiring of Edwards.

A copy of an official GPD document indicated that the officer trainee did not pass a polygraph examination, with the test subsequently sent off-island for external review.  DOA officials say they were under the assumption that Edwards met all of the requirements as mandated by public law to become a police officer trainee, as his GG1 form was processed back on May 3.

DOA human resources personnel confirm that if Edwards did not meet the qualifications, they will have to pull back his GG1. DOA is now working on verifying the information from the police department.

Leon Guerrero meanwhile assures the public that the process will take its course, telling KUAM News, "Whatever decision I'm going to make, I'm going to bring in my staff and to make sure that they properly provide me with the necessary information to make a very sound decision."

John Edwards has been replaced as police spokesperson, with A.J. Balajadia returning to fill the seat he staffed for many years. Also taking over as police commander, which was filled by Leon Guerrero, is Major Leon Ryan.

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