Passed bill could prevent Suba's return to GPD - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Passed bill could prevent Suba's return to GPD

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - While Acting Police Chief Frank Ishizaki has said he intends to reinstate former chief Paul Suba back to the force, lawmakers passed a measure today repealing the very section in Guam law that would allow for Suba's return.  Former police officers in the 30th Guam Legislature think the Guam Police Department needs to put a screeching halt to ongoing efforts to reinstate the former chief.

"If this individual qualified, then it doesn't matter if it takes another month - he'll still come back," announced Senator Adolpho Palacios. The oversight chairman for public safety says he doesn't understand what the rush is to bring the former chief of police back to the department.  The former top brass, who announced his intent to retire in May, at the threat of termination for failing to do so, has been on annual leave and was set to retire effective tomorrow.  

But KUAM News has confirmed that Acting Chief of Police Frank Ishizaki is going to reinstate Suba, who has been utilizing annual leave pending his return to GPD. 

"Let us do this the right way," Palacios noted.  "It appears to me that someone is rushing this and pushing this ignoring the fact that the returning individual actually does not qualify for the position to which he's going back under the current standards."  Title 5 of Guam Code Annotated, Section 3104 allowed for a chief of police to be reinstated to the position they held immediately prior to their appointment upon termination of employment if not removed for cause.

GPD intended to use that provision to bring Suba back, but a law passed just last year changed the requirements for a number of positions in the department, including the police captain position, which Suba held prior to his appointment as chief.  The problem is that law requires Suba to have a college degree.  "With that knowledge," said Senator Palacios, "the public will now have to view that individual as occupying a position for which he's not qualified.  And that is very disturbing."

The Department of Administration sought a legal opinion on the conflicting laws and KUAM News confirmed with the Attorney General's Office today that the review of the two laws is still being conducted. Lawmakers today however further complicated Suba's ability to go back to the department when they made amendments to Bill 271.  "It is disturbing because it appears there appears to be no concern on the part of the Administration or on the part of the GPD leadership to at least give this time to develop.  Understand that today 15 senators voted to repeal that law and repeal that law for the reinstatement," said the veteran Democrat policymaker.

Former police officer Senator Frank Blas, Jr., (R) says management at GPD must remember to follow the law.  Even if he wanted to go back, he says he couldn't because the qualifications were changed.  "I think taking the personality out does this person have the qualifications necessary to come back in at the entry level more, so at the level they want to put him at.  I've got some real big concerns when we start to circumvent the law and the process," he detailed.

Senator Palacios says because his colleagues voted unanimously to pass Bill 271, he expects that even if the governor vetoes the measure, the Legislature will successfully override it.

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