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GPD needs more officers

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Legislation with the potential to hire 200 new police officers over the course of the coming five fiscal years went up for a public hearing this afternoon. The bill is considered a critical piece of legislation as members of the police force testified that the need for more people is dire.

"We are hurting, we need more police officers," stated District I Commander Captain Kim Santos. She has been with the Guam Police Department for over 30 years. When she first joined in 1983, GPD had approximately 400 police officers with a smaller island population. The situation is different today, as she said, "We are where we're are here today. We've lost many people, either through retirement, death, some just sought better opportunities, moved to the States, could have been a number of reasons."

And in order to help alleviate some of the problems in the police force, Senator Brant McCreadie has introduced Bill 78. "This is a piece of legislation I think will finally address the need to protect our officers in uniform," the senator explained. Bill 78 would establish an annual police recruitment cycle starting in Fiscal Year 2016 for a five-year period. The measure would allow GPD to hire a minimum of 200 new police officers for the upcoming five fiscal years.

Chief of Police Fred Bordallo says he supports the intent of the bill, noting, "The Guam Police Department during these previous four years has steadily through the support of Governor Eddie Calvo and Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio recruited and hired 49 full-time police officer training positions and reemployed an additional four full-time police officers for a total of 53 officers added to the police force."

He adds 100 people had been recruited and trained as Civilian Volunteer Police Reserve officers for the purpose of augmenting the police department. GPD currently has around 320 police officers. While he says hiring more police officers would help mitigate the potential cost of overtime, he cautioned at the same time that the department not hire too much where it cannot afford or sustain to fund them.

Meanwhile, Captain Timothy Santos is with the Forensic Science Division of GPD and describes a typical shift in 1984 from when he first started. He said, "On shift, we had one sergeant, one desk watch and 11 people on the road - and in addition to those 11 people, in each area at a precinct on a shift had at least 11 to 15 people." And just like the he described, the situation changed over the years.

"You know, it's bad when one precinct has to call another precinct for help. If I'm in charge of Agana and I got to call Agat and say I need help, it's bad."

While he says it won't be an overnight fix, he supports any bill that would provide GPD with more manpower. Chief Bordallo says adding at least another 60 police officers would bring the department to a more adequate number.

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