GPD defends search of KUAM newsroom
Guam - Although KUAM was called 15 minutes before a press conference was going to be scheduled - and sent to the wrong venue - we still managed to get the story. The Criminal Investigation Division held a late afternoon press conference in Chief of Police Paul Suba's office at Tiyan. The chief, however, was not present.
The press conference was in regards to the search warrant GPD executed at the KUAM Studios in Harmon this past Wednesday. CID Operations Chief Lieutenant Joseph Carbullido read the following statement:
On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, the Guam Police Department executed a search warrant at KUAM News offices, Harmon. The search warrant was based on a criminal complaint filed regarding the theft of a Guam Police Department confidential document. An affidavit of probable cause was presented and signed by a judge regarding the facts and circumstances of the investigation.
A total of six investigators and the operations sergeant from the Criminal Investigations Division arrived at KUAM where they requested for KUAM's general manager, Joey Calvo was apprised of our reason for being at the location and was presented the search warrant. At that point and time we also informed Mr. Calvo that we were seeking a single document relative to an ongoing criminal complaint. The investigators obliged Mr. Calvo when he asked for KUAM's attorney to review the warrant presented to him.
After being informed of the contents of the warrant, the attorney advised Mr. Calvo to comply. The investigators present, informed Mr. Calvo that they were there to obtain the document in question which was displayed on KUAM News the night before May 11, 2010. Mr. Calvo then escorted the investigators to a KUAM News reporters' room and asked the reporter to surrender the document. The reporter told the investigators that she had discarded the document.
Investigators then requested that Mr. Calvo have his employees exit the KUAM offices, however Mr. Calvo was allowed to remain with the police officers. Shortly thereafter in less than a minute of the investigators received a call on his cell phone from the news reporter, who then told the investigator that she had the document in question and that she would show the police exactly where it was.
The reporter took the investigators to an office inside KUAM and pointed out where the document in question was. The document was seized and no further search was conducted. The investigators left KUAM without incident.
This case was investigated like any other case and was not treated any differently. A document was stolen and it was displayed by KUAM News and is the reason why the Guam Police Department acted swiftly to retrieve possible evidence related to a crime.
We followed proper procedures in this investigation and in fact an attorney from the attorney general's office was apprised of the warrant prior to it being signed and executed. This case is on-going and we choose not to discuss it any further pending the completion of this investigation.
We hold the media in high regard because we too aside from being police officers are citizens of this island. We understand and respect the constitutional rights of every individual and their right to have access to free press. The intent of this search warrant was merely to retrieve a document and in no way was it meant to suppress KUAM or any other media source from reporting accurate information to the public. Thank you very much.
For the record, KUAM disputes the sequence of events and the comments attributed to KUAM employees. Our legal counsel is currently reviewing the statement.
Additionally, the Attorney General's Office has confirmed despite statements included in the press conference by police today, AG Spokesperson Eric Palacios says the office was not asked to assist in or conduct an independent investigation. Palacios adding the AG's Office was neither consulted, nor did it provide any guidance to GPD regarding the search warrant.