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Another inquiry into police harassment

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The Guam Police confirm a third internal affairs investigation is underway after a parent filed assault charges against two police officers who he claims harassed his son at a Dededo high school. Joe Camacho says on February 4 his 14-year-old son came home with a referral letter from the office and a pain in his left arm.

"He explained to me that a cop twisted his arm, so I told him to tell me what was going on and he told me that he just went to tap on the shoulder, my boy said he went to tap the cop on his right arm with his left and then the cop grabbed his arm twisted it and said 'don't touch me'," he recalled.  

Police were at Okkodo High School that day responding to a disturbance. School administrators say the incident involved two students that resulted in damage to the school property. But according to school officials and Camacho, his son apparently wasn't the student involved. "Normally my boy goes up to doctors, officers because he is trying to pick his career, I told him don't be afraid to go up and ask questions so that's what he did," he said.

Camacho says the officer took him to the school office. He says another police officer was there, and according to Camacho apparently making foul statements to the student. Camacho filed assault charges at the Tamuning Precinct and with GPD's Internal Affairs Division.

"Trying to talk to my boy like that using harsh words, 'Oh, you're a freshman' and this and that so he told me about that and they gave him a referral slip so what I did was I called GPD that day," he said. "I told them I don't appreciate you guys doing this, what if you jerked him the wrong way and he ended up in the hospital, what if it was your kids that just wanted to shake someone's hand."

While the officers did apologize to Camacho for the incident, he says, "I want to make sure that these officers are disciplined, I mean I don't want them fired at least get them a psychic evaluation or make them do anger management or something or make them go to a class that could handle themselves professionally if they have an aggression problem then they should leave their gun in the car because that's no excuse to use to pick on an innocent child."

GPD confirms IA is investigating the complaint.

In the meantime, Public Safety Committee Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios says he will discuss with the chief of police whether these reported incidents warrants an oversight hearing for the agency. While school officials say they are aware of the incident they also say they are hoping to heighten their efforts to monitor everyone that comes onto the campus to prevent this from happening in the future.

Chief of Police Fred Bordallo tells KUAM News they are gathering data regarding the trend of reported incidents and complaints against officers. He says they will evaluate the data and determine if the problem is the quality of training or limited resources GPD has.

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