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Bill helps GPD work with disabled

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - It was three years ago a Dededo man died at the hands of Guam Police. The man reportedly suffered from a mental illness, and a pair of legislation has been introduced in hopes to deter any future situations that could end up being violent between police officers and individuals with disabilities.

Public Safety Oversight Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios wants services with the Guam Police Department to improve. He introduced two bills that would require police officers be tested when dealing with a resident who is either mentally or physically challenged. He said, "A lot of unnecessary encounters and complications occurred before because of the misunderstanding in a pull over but in this case at lease it will force applicants to study and prepare for at least to be able to answer two items in a test that has to do with persons with disabilities."

Case in point: Palacios says is the fatal shooting of Darson Rekemisik in October 2008. His mother sought GPD's help in removing her son from the Dededo residence. Police arrived and found Rekemesik brandishing a knife and a machete, lunging towards the cops. He died from two gunshot wounds to the chest. But it was only after the fatal incident that family members revealed Rekemesik had a mental condition. Now hoping to prevent more incidences like this, Senator Palacios' first legislation - Bill 270 would require include additional testing for those trying to get on the force.

He said, "That is to make sure here on forth all police officers that are going to be hired in a position that they have to be tested on their ability to recognize and understand and be able to handle persons with disabilities and special needs."

The second - Bill 271 extends the requirements to men and women in blue appointed to the ranks of police sergeant and police lieutenant. Palacios says the measures if passed would assist officers when they respond to emergencies or situations involving individuals with disabilities.

He said, "The bottom line is we want our police officers who deal with these people everyday as witnesses, as responsible persons or as witnesses to be able to communicate properly and handle these people properly."

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