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Commission proposes reducing fitness requirements for Guam law enforcers

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Three hours of testimony later and the results are in - it's not looking good for public safety on island if lawmakers don't step in to make a modifications to a Guam law that mandates a physical fitness standard for all peace officers.

Three years ago, hopes were high for setting a standard fitness level for all of Guam's peace officers. Then-chief of police Fred Bordallo said, "By having a physical fitness standard for not only the Guam Police Department, but all law enforcement agencies that are going to step to the plate, it's going to save some lives."

Fast forward to today, and it's evident - expectation was set way too high. Each agency reporting majority of their men and women unable to meet the minimum fitness standard that mirrors that of the U.S. Air Force.

Troy Pangelinan with the Judiciary said, "We currently risk losing 40% of our workforce if we were to implement the current standards and hold the marshals and probation officers accountable."  DOC warden Colonel Alan Borja added, "If we continue with the standard, we're looking at losing maybe 60-70% of our workforce."

Joseph Cruz, chief of GPD, commented, "The ramifications of this law, if we don't amend it is that up to 70% of the GPD will no longer go out there and be able to keep the public safe. That's what it's about. This is not about any of us per se. I want to make that clear. This is all about the people of Guam."

Although Speaker BJ Cruz sponsored the legislation nearly five years ago, he's pointing the blame at the POST Commission who picked the air force model as their standard. "I kept saying, 'Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure?' And that was almost five years ago."

The POST Commission's Dennis Santo Thomas stated, "Speaker Cruz, the commission takes full responsibility for the public law."

Bob Camacho, the airport police chief, said, "We had big dreams for sure and we were all motivated. I myself felt that I could pass this thing, then the run was difficult for me, too."

The fitness test includes pushups and situps, a timed 1.5-mile run, and a waist circumference measurement - all of which correspond to your age and gender.

Each agency reporting struggles in the run and waist sections.

Major Vincent Perez with Customs said, "If you don't pass the waist line, you've already failed. You have to pass the waistline. So people find it challenging, at least for the males right, 39-inches is the cutoff."

The POST Commission today proposed the fitness standards be modified to reduce the 1.5-mile run to a 1-mile run and to eliminate the waist-circumference measure all together. Their proposal also includes creating a research and development team to determine how best to proceed.

Chief Cruz concluded, "The last thing we're asking is an extension on the time because the current law does have a backstop date of December 30 of this year. That's why we propose the recommendations that we do. But make no mistake we are on board with the standard. We do understand the spirit and intent of the law."

To view today's informational briefing, visit the Guam Legislature's YouTube feed.

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