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Public safety agencies discuss cost-cutting

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - While we wait to see just how deep the job cuts will be within the Government of Guam, public safety agencies like the rest of the island's public sector are trying to find ways to do more with less. But agencies like the Guam Police and Guam Fire Departments say cuts could compromise the public's safety.  

Already suffering from a lack of equipment and an ailing fleet of medics, GFD is trying to find ways to cut costs. On the table: the possibility of closing down an undetermined amount of fire stations, early retirement for eligible firefighters, and firefighters possibly going from 24-hour to 8-hour shifts the latter proposal preferred by Public Safety Chairperson Senator Adolpho Palacios.

"I did the math," the senator stated. "It's not going to cost anymore than right now and it will be more efficient - definitely more savings. I cannot see the rational with continuing the 24-hour shifts."

GFD Spokesperson Captain Andy Arceo says a meeting was held with GFD upper management today to further discuss plans to streamline operations and cut costs. He stressed though whatever is decided ultimately services will suffer. "We are mandated to perform all these services and I really don't see us performing these mandates services such as EMS, fire suppression and prevention with a limited budget," he said.

Echoing those concerns, the Guam Police Department's administrative division chief Captain Mark Charfauros says his staff worked late last night and came up with three proposals to present to the governor but couldn't release specifics until Chief of Police Fred Bordallo approves it. "I can tell you though our proposal does not include any layoffs or any furloughs of our employees," he explained.

Charfauros says they've already put a stop to paying stipends for reservists, adding GPD over the years has already cut down to bare minimum. "We have reorganized GPD and have downsized it from its original organizational structure, we have cut everything down to ten percent of our operating budget to be used for operations and so it's extremely difficult to make any recommendations or any proposals," he said.

While specifics have not yet been released, some GPD officers are in fear telling us they've learned several jobs may be cut. In the meantime, Charfauros says Governor Eddie Calvo will be meeting with the chief of police Friday to decide what will be done to cut costs in GPD.

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