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Lacking equipment, cops' response suffers

by Nick Delgado

Guam - The government's current financial crisis is having an impact on all Government of Guam agencies, especially public safety. You've heard about the issues with the fire department and ongoing efforts to get more ambulances on the road, but it now appears the Guam Police Department is in need of some assistance of their own ill-equipped to properly respond to emergency calls around the island. 

Imagine being a cop and not having a vehicle equipped with sirens and a public address system to help you get through traffic to respond to emergencies. Instead you're forced to use your hands to try and communicate to other motorists. For officers with the Tumon-Tamuning Precinct, it's not a dream, it's alarming reality. "It's the siren, an electrical component that fuses power for the siren and PA system and right now that defective so it needs to be replaced," said Lieutenant Ron Taitano, commander for the Frankie E. Smith Precinct in Tumon.

Two Dodge Chargers, which were donated to GPD, lack the necessary sirens and PA systems to inform the public when officers respond to emergencies. "Two Chargers, one we have currently in use, it currently has some deficiencies with the sirens other than that the vehicle operates fine. The other Charger is at our maintenance shop under repairs," he explained.

And if getting through traffic without a siren and a PA system wasn't enough, Taitano admits his officers even have to pair up because there simply aren't enough working police cars. The precinct only has two working cars - two more have deficiencies with limited capabilities to support the mission, while six have been deemed completely inoperative. "Right now, that's what we have and we are trying to do the best with those vehicles," Taitano continued. "We provide coverage to all the beat areas as much as we can; it's just unfortunate with our shortage of patrol vehicles that we have to double up the officers in these cars."

The Hagatna Precinct is also dealing with a similar problem, as one of their vehicles is not currently equipped with operational emergency lights and a siren.  That precinct only has three working patrol vehicles while five cruisers have been deemed inoperable to support the mission. At the Dededo Precinct, there are five working patrol cars and another four that have been deemed inoperable. At the Agat Precinct, four cars are working while three are down for good.

The police department has as many inoperable vehicles as it does, working patrol cars.  But like everything else in the government, police officers are forced to deal with the problem as the department waits for money to become available to make the necessary repairs. 

All the while the public is left hoping officers have a working patrol car to respond to their calls.

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