GPD's raid stories continue to change - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GPD's raid stories continue to change

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - It seems there's still some confusion over a single meeting that led to the search warrant executed at the KUAM Studios nearly two weeks ago.  And there's now also major concern over who may have had access to the confidential discussion.  

"In this meeting at the Chief's Office present was the chief, our acting chief of police now, Jim Mitchell, the operations chief and myself and Dr. Ron McNinch," Guam Police Department Captain Kim Santos stated for an oversight committee on Monday.  Chairman Senator Adolpho Palacios then asked if McNinch, a University of Guam public administration professor, was or is a sworn officer. 

"Ron McNinch is an honorary chief of police," Captain Santos said, adding, "He's also a volunteer with the Guam Police Department and he is the POST director."  The Democrat policymaker then asked, "But this is a police investigation and now you're bringing up some element that this is police investigation sensitive, is he accessible to those kind of things?"

"Yes," replied Santos, "I trust, yes, he is."  Further asked if McNinch is a sworn police officer, former chief of police Paul Suba interjected and replied, "They are sworn as honoraries, they are sworn-in by the chief of police."

It was during yesterday's oversight hearing that officials revealed details about a meeting that happened just hours before Criminal Investigation Division agents raided KUAM.  At that meeting was Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission executive director and Honorary Deputy Chief of Police McNinch, who says his involvement in that meeting had nothing to do with the warrant.

He said, "I was asked about the allegations about the chief regarding the irregularities or alleged irregularities against the polygraph, and I said any irregularities against the chief or anything should be consulted with the attorney general on it."

During the oversight hearing, Captain Santos, the former head of CID, first said she didn't know about the search warrant; Suba however later said she did know, as did GPD's legal counsel Mitchell, because they were at that meeting where it was discussed. It's the same meeting McNinch now says he didn't participate in discussions about the search warrant. 

Despite the different stories, Senator Palacios is frustrated to learn about the meeting and questions why McNinch was included, despite his title as POST director and honorary deputy chief of police.  The senator said, "Neither side and neither title should entitle him to participate in a discussion as sensitive at that, a discussion that led up to a decision of a warrant to search KUAM."

"It's disturbing," Palacios also said, "not less than 20 honorary deputy chief of police [sic] who are privileged to go into cold case files, meaning the unsolved files and those are sensitive, and sometimes even regular police officers may not be privy to information like that."  Palacios calls the honorary deputy position "generic" and has requested for answers from the acting chief as to why the positions are necessary.

McNinch meanwhile defended his involvement in the two roles he currently serves, stating, "For honorary deputy chief stuff, I've been mainly working on things like parties and things like that. I have a secondary role that's related to POST that's related to other areas, so my involvement with the police or with other law enforcement is fairly broad."

In fact, according to a document KUAM News obtained, McNinch was involved in the hiring process of Police Trainee John Edwards, whose polygraph test resulted in the KUAM raid.

"I was involved in the articulation agreement for Mr. Edwards," McNinch confirmed.  "I reviewed his training, he came from a very good program in Arizona related to POST. I wrote the articulation agreement that calls for a normal agreement so that when people come in from other police forces and other parts of the country they have to go through an acculturation process to join the ranks of local police."

In the meantime, Senator Palacios still questions the process of the polygraph exam and plans to make amendments that if any applicant is either deceptive or inconclusive, then they will not be processed.  Currently the law states anyone selected to be hired as a police officer must submit to and pass a polygraph examination.

In light of recent events involving the POST Commission, former acting police chief and former post member Earl Aguigui tells KUAM News that the Commission should always act as an independent body to avoid any favoritism.

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