Terminated officer tested positive for drugs - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Terminated officer tested positive for drugs

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - After a decade without conducting random drug testing, a recent test has weeded out at least one Department of Corrections officer. DepCor spokesperson Lt. Antone Aguon told KUAM News, "A few months back we conducted random drug testing and as a result one of the employees tested positive and we instituted adverse action procedures in according with DOA rules and regulations and the final action was the employee was terminated."

Aguon could not identify the employee, however, KUAM News has confirmed the officer is CO1 Joaquin Cruz, Jr., who swore into the department in 2007. He worked in the Mangilao prison's half way house. It was earlier reported the officer tested positive for using narcotics and claiming he had a prescription, but KUAM confirms the investigation revealed the officer in fact tested positive for using an illegal substance. He was fired a couple of weeks ago.

"He was given a chance to respond and as a result like I said it was the director's decision to let him go," said Aguon.

According to Aguon, Cruz was allowed to remain on the job during the internal affairs investigation because of staffing shortages, but with Cruz no longer with DOC, it will have an impact. "We do lose an officer, we lose a position but if that officer is not performing his duties then he does the department no good anyway," he said.

Cruz has taken his termination to the Civil Service Commission, which will go up for a hearing on December 15.

Of note is that DepCor's random drug testing was conducted in September - weeks before the governor signed the bill that repealed the Safe Harbor Law. KUAM News also discovered Cruz's father, CO3 Joaquin Cruz, was demoted to CO2 earlier this year after an IA investigation revealed he assaulted another officer. He too is fighting the adverse action through the CSC. These cases are among dozens of others DepCor received this year ranging from insubordination, negligence, citizen complaints, inmate complaints against staff members and conflicts between co-workers.

Aguon says DepCor staff need better education on the rules and regulations to prevent the IA cases from piling up. "That's something we are continuously looking at and to work with the employees, we are not here to get them, we need the employees to do our job, we can't accomplish this without our staff, if there a few errs and missteps every now and then we just try to get them in line and move forward," he said.

There are close to 70 active internal affairs investigations at DOC. Some of them include a a DeoCor officer accused of having detainees perform lewd acts during a strip search at the Hagatna Detention Center. That staffer has been cleared of the allegations. DepCor also served adverse action on a corrections supervisor who would run errands while on the clock.

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