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Police chief says community initiatives are paying dividends

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 5:00 PM Updated:

Public safety was the topic of the hour at today's Rotary Club of Guam meeting. Guam Police Chief Joseph Cruz appeared before members to discuss the island's recent crime statistics and the different community initiatives GPD is working on.

On Thursday's Rotary Club of Guam meeting, special guest, GPD Police Chief Joseph Cruz, stood before members to speak on the island's public safety concerns. Plus the community oriented policing strategies (COPS) that GPD is working on to rectify them. Armed with a presentation, Chief Cruz spoke on the current crime statistics on Guam, including areas surrounding the four precincts throughout the island that have been identified as hotspots of crime.

"As we reach out to the business partners, as we reach out to the whole of the community, understanding where the hotspots are or the problem areas is important because that's how we're going to effectuate that," said the chief.

And based on these statistics, alcohol-related crimes, family violence, and disturbances, are the most prevalent crimes experienced throughout the island as of today. But even though these areas may share similar problems, for Chief Cruz, a cookie cutter style of policing simply will not do. "The crime up in Yigo or Dededo is very different than the crime down south. And the needs of the people down south are very different than the needs of the people up north. So to be able to meet that, to better effectuate crime and drive crime down, the strategy of policing is so that you specifically meet the needs of the community," Cruz said.

This prompted the department to focus on proactive policing rather than reactive policing...which is why GPD's Mandana COPS initiatives focus on addressing four separate pillars. The chief explained, "Each pillar represents a certain initiative, something that we are doing to further embed ourselves into the community."  Like partnerships with the community, the youth, members of the Freely Associated States, and non-government organizations.

And since the inception of some of these initiatives, GPD has seen significant returns, especially from the Neighborhood Watch Programs, Mandana Drug Task Force, Alcohol Task Force, and Robbery Task Force, which have resulted in more arrests made by GPD, but not without the help of residents.

"Community-oriented policing truly addresses the needs of the community," he said, reassuringly of the effectiveness of the programs.

And Chief Cruz hopes to further the success of current initiatives, as well as implement new ones, like a mobile app. "We're getting ready to launch an application called Hands On Intelligence," he said. "We're going to empower the community even more to be able to download that application so that as you see crime happening in progress, you can take a picture of it, you can video that, and shoot it to the Guam Police Department."

Chief Cruz is hopeful that by being more community oriented, the GPD increase their progress in relieving crime on the island.

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