by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Guam is marketed as a safe and family destination, and in order to provide that confidence to our visitors, a new Visitors Safety Officer Program officially launched today.  

It's been in the planning stages for months and today Governor Eddie Calvo gave his sign of approval. "I say thumbs up! Looking good!" said the island's chief executive.  Today the Visitor Safety Officer Program was officially launched offering locals and visitors a stronger sense of safety and security in Tumon - one of the busiest parts of the island and Guam's tourism capitol.

GVB board chairman Mark Baldyga describes it as a breed of both park ranger and hotel concierge, telling KUAM News, "They're a guest concierge for people on the street, and they're also there for safety and security we kept hearing from the Japan Guam Tourism Council that they're concerned about security and after the 2/12 incident we wanted to do something about it."

The program is funded through $400,000 out of the tourist attract fund. G4S was contracted by GVB to provide the safety, security and concierge services to our biggest industry. "Our goal was to meet and or exceed those expectations while giving our visitors a safety and memorable experience in Guam," explained Paul Suba.

The program actually started on August 1 and so far consists of nine VSOs who will patrol from bishop circle all the way to gun beach and streets in between. "They come from a diverse background - we have GPD Reserve officers, at least three or four among them, active and inactive military, college graduates complete with masters degrees," he said.

The group also consists of former GovGuam leaders, Justice Academy graduates and former GPD retirees some of whom have multi-language capabilities and trained in disciplines relevant to safety and security. Suba said, "One of the things I do appreciate with this program, is if they're intoxicated not only do we get a hold of the proper authorities, GPD in particular, but we we're able to talk to family members that are there with those that partying to help them understand the dangers of getting in the water after being intoxicated."

The program actually started on August 1, and VSOs have already helped prevent five drownings. They're also tasked with directing and assisting visitors to areas of concerns, escorting to destinations, helping children who get separated from their families, ensuring both visitors and locals keep trash and debris of the beach and roads, and educate visitors on weather conditions. The VSOs will be equipped with defensive items along with vehicles such as scooters, jetskis and Segways. He says the program however cannot succeed without the collaboration from GPD, GFD and security at the island's hotels.