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Secure Our Schools Act being assessed

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The island's public schools are a step closer to becoming more secure. And starting Monday, the Guam Police Department will lead an assessment that will finally move the Secure Our Schools Act forward.

"We're losing money in terms of having to repair the damage, replace some the equipment, it's very expensive instructional equipment, but the most expensive is the loss of Instructional time for our children," noted Speaker Judi Won Pat.

According to Won Pat, this is what happens every time a school is vandalized, broken into or robbed. Her secure our schools act is aimed at preventing these crimes and provides funding to install and maintain electronic and other security systems at all of the island's public schools.

"It is the entire government's responsibility to help education one is to keep it safe for the children," she said.

And last week, Won Pat held a meeting with stakeholders who have experience with security systems. They include the Guam Police Department, Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Affairs, the airport and the General Services Agency. All the agencies committed in joining the Department of Education on a tour of all the schools to determine risk areas and the most feasible approach to securing our schools.

"They're going to work with the risk assessment that the department had put together and based on their own experience for the departments that they have security cameras and other intrusion systems and even foot patrol, they already know how they want to keep their areas safe and secure and so therefore they would provide input to DOE," she said.

DOE administrators stated they want to implement the security systems with caution, to ensure these systems will be effective in deterring criminals and that they won't be easily vandalized after they are installed. Won Pat says all of these points will be challenging but a task the team is willing to take.

"The biggest challenge for them all the way around is because they want to do a good job at this but the apprehension would be if they make recommendations for certain places and then they miss a spot and should by chance after everything is all in and then a certain area is vandalized and broken into, they'll say we didn't do due diligence in protecting our schools or people would say we did this, we spent so much money, why are people still breaking in," she said.

The island's mayors were also invited on the tour. The assessment starts on February 17 and is expected to last about three weeks.  Won Pat says GSA will be part of the tour as well and based on the input will then put together a packet for the request for proposal for security systems. 

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