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Mayors discuss need for more police

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Over the last several weeks we've reported about the rise in crime, especially in burglaries and robberies. Who better to notice the increase than village mayors and today during a Mayors Council of Guam meeting it was clear they feel the need stepped up police presence.

From one end of the island to the other, Guam mayors say there needs to be more police patrolling their neighborhoods. During Wednesday's Council meeting one by one mayors spoke about some of the problems they're experiencing when constituents call 911 for help. President Paul McDonald said, "I called the police. They have not responded maybe until a half hour later and sometimes they don't' respond at all. And that's unacceptable."

The concern for safety is also being raised in the village of Tamuning. Vice mayor Kenneth Santos says he too has experienced a delayed response, citing for example a bar in his village where fights are reported there almost weekly. "They responded when everybody left and it took them almost an hour and a half to even come," she said.

According to McDonald there concerns aren't new to the chief of police. Matter of fact he says they've written a letter to him suggesting solutions to the problem such as asking help from the Port Police, Airport Police and even Guam Customs to assist with patrols. Unfortunately according to McDonald the Council has not received a response. They now plan to write a letter to Governor Eddie Calvo. In the letter they also plan on citing local law that illustrates how the police department is falling short of following the law.

Dededo mayor Melissa Savares said, "In every village that has a population of more than 2,000 people as determined by the most recent census, there shall be one additional officer assigned to that village. We have Dededo Precinct, which takes care of Dededo, Yigo, part of Mangilao, part of Barrigfada, and part of Upper Tumon. We have per shift seven officers max right now because of the population of just Dededo and Yigo we should have 34 officers per shift not per station it says here in this law, per shift."

According to Savares the problem is so bad in her village, the island's largest. That there are seven officers sharing four police vehicles. "For the safety of our people, we need to follow this law at least meet it halfway," she said.

And while GPD may not be able to meet the mandates because of a shortage of manpower, mayors suggest hiring some of the recent national guardsmen who are returning from deployment that meet the qualifications, as well Yona mayor Ken Jo Ada suggests looking at changing the law to prohibit police officers from dual service in the Guard. "You ask yourself, who are those officers those officers are mostly soldiers and they go off island to deploy and defend our country but there's always a shortage but I think what should happen or what would be good for Guam would be to make a police officer an exclusive position so you cannot have other commitments other than being a police officer," he said.

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