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Guam Police dealing with loss, questions

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Aside from family members, perhaps the group most affected by the shocking incident of an officer's death after a shooting in Yigo, resulting in the arrest of one of their own, is the Guam Police Department itself. A GPD chaplain says it is a very difficult time for officers, with so much grieving and questioning going on.   

Pastor Louis Torres of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church is a member of the Guam Police Chaplain's Department, a multi-denominational group that counsels both crime victims...and officers, too. The pastor says the hurt runs deep over the death of Officer Bert Piolo and arrest of Officer Mark Torre, Jr. "There's no question," he began, "that anytime something as horrible as this is happens to a police department, everyone is affected. The department right now is shocked, and those who are closest to it, dealing with the frustration, the anxiety, etc. will need counseling."

Torres has also been chaplain at an Oregon Police Department, and his brother is a long-time police officer.  He knows that the culture of police officers often makes it difficult for them to seek help.  His job as counselor is to gain their trust, and understand that while the entire department is grieving, different people grieve in different ways.  "Once you understand what they're grieving about, then you can help them cope with grieving. How do you deal when there are no answers, how do you deal with how to go on. And so depending on the type of grieving that they're having will determine what kind of advice and counsel you can give them," he explained.

The pastor says officers will likely grapple over a variety of emotions as they try to come to terms with such a tragic incident. He says all of these need to be identified, and addressed, saying, "It may be that the person who was lost was a close friend to somebody who is now angry. You know, my buddy is gone. And that also leads to anxiety, to thoughts of revenge, all those kinds of things that can occur. So you have to counsel people, find out where they are.  What is it that's hurting, and where is it that they're hurting? Then you can advise them point by point with the particular emotion that they're dealing with."

What the department is dealing with is unlike anything that's happened to it before.  An officer accused of killing a fellow officer. Pastor Torres says the public needs to remember that officers are just people - people who in times like this need to be supported.  "One of the things that is important for the officers is to try to bring comfort to them," he continued.

"So in death, the only comfort you can bring is faith.  A person with faith has a better ability to cope with these kinds of situations, then a person without faith."

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