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Port enforcing tighter security after breach

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While it's not the first time it's happened, the Port Authority of Guam is enforcing stricter protocol following a security breach in the Port yard late last month. The matter is considered so serious that management is calling for administrative action for anyone who doesn't follow proper procedure.

It's considered one of 16 strategic ports in the United States, which is why it's even more critical that proper security procedures are followed at the Port Authority of Guam. "At the end of the day it's about safety and more importantly it's about security," said Port Authority general manager Joanne Brown. About two weeks ago, a security breach occurred at the Port that resulted in a lockdown of the Port yard.  "My understanding is essentially two Customs officers had driven Senator (Tom) Ada to the mobile screening machine that we purchased for Customs under our port security grant, and unfortunately because they didn't provide adequate notice to the port and go through the proper approval process for Senator Ada's presence here in the Port yard, that's what led to the breach of security and the lockdown of the Port yard until it was investigated and cleared by Port Police," she stated.

Senator Ada had told KUAM News he did not believe he breached security as he was accompanied by two Customs officers in an official vehicle. Ada is the oversight chairman on transportation, which includes the Port. "But again, that does require notification to Port Police, approval by Port Police and proper badging to be provided to that individual or individuals to enter the yard," Brown clarified. She says the incident is being taken seriously because of possible consequences such as penalties or financial fines for not meeting maritime security requirements.

"And we are closely regulated by the US Coast Guard and this is something they monitor, and I did have to relay this have to relay this information to Captain (James) Pruett, who is the Captain of the Port last week when this incident happened, and certainly this matter I'm sure is up for review with them," said the GM. Brown continued to say that the Coast Guard has since relayed they did not have an issue as far as violations in their jurisdiction. She does add the Port still has its security process in place that needs to be followed.

Meanwhile, the armed security guard who allowed the customs vehicle to entire the yard has since resigned. "I also had to send a memorandum to our police chief to provide to all our Port Police officers and our armed security guards, refreshing them on what the protocol requirements are and unfortunately if they're not followed there will be consequences to that," said Brown.

She has even written to Customs director Pedro Leon Guerrero requesting he take appropriate administration action with regards to the Customs officers involved along with reminding them of proper protocols and mandate security requirements. "Customs also should know better because they're free to come into the port to do any investigative work and inspection work that they do in their day-to-day operations, however that does not grant them any authority to bring any unauthorized individuals into the Port of Guam," she said.

KUAM News has yet to receive a response from Customs, but in a letter to the Port, Leon Guerrero says, "I too agree with the importance of security at this port of entry and its relevance to Customs enforcement on Guam." 

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