by Nick Delgado
Guam - The Guam Police Department reports 32 crashes involving their official police vehicles for 2011. And investigations for half of those crashes show police officers were at fault.
The constant traffic violations by Guam Police officers has yielded the chief of police to develop an enhanced operating vehicle policy. He is working on the proposal with the Attorney General's Office, which includes administrative procedures when serving adverse action to GPD officers involved in traffic crashes. For now this is the Policy Highway Patrol Division's Lt. Art Paulino says they work with.
"The policy is we are to cite when appropriate, if an officer is responding to an emergency then the enabling act tells us when an officer is to be accountable for any damages, then the officer must have been grossly negligent while responding to situation," said Paulino. "When we investigate we are looking at totality of the circumstances, what was happening while the officer was responding or doing routine patrol."
KUAM News also confirmed that this past week alone three more officers are under investigation after their police vehicles were involved in traffic accidents.
A Highway Patrol officer driving a GPD official failed to yield to another vehicle while leaving the Harmon Bank of Guam. Police confirm another crash involved executive security who was backing out of Government House's driveway when another vehicle struck him. The officer was not found to be in violation. The third crash involved a detective from the Criminal Investigation Division who was backing out of a driveway when he bumped the back of another vehicle causing the car to hit a concrete pole. The officer was found in violation. An internal affairs investigation is underway for all three crashes. Lt. Paulino says an officer was also cited two weeks ago for gross negligence after being involved in a car crash near the Hagatna McDonald's. The roads were wet and Paulino says the officer lost control. The officer was found to be at fault.
"He sideswiped the hillside there causing extensive damage to the left rear and bumper of the vehicle," he added. Paulino adds 14 of his fellow officers were found in violation after being involved in a traffic crash last year. He says the officers were cited for various violations.
"Police officers do get cited, police officers do get tickets," he said. "Whether it's inattention, unsafe backing, unsafe starting and things like that."