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Guam police facing internal affairs backlog

April 25, 2014

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Internal affairs cases are pending against 70 Guam officers accused of breaking local laws over the past three years, but the police chief won’t be able to fire, suspend or demote them when the cases are closed, a newspaper reported Friday.

Guam law forbids government agencies from taking any adverse action against an employee more than 60 days after management “knew or should have known” about the alleged infractions, the Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1mMdeNW ).

The 60-day clock starts the day a complaint is filed or a person with a complaint notifies a high-ranking officer.

“If they pass the 60 days, it ain’t gonna come to me for adverse action,” Chief of Police Fred Bordallo said.

The police colonel may issue letters of warning or reprimands if allegations are corroborated, he said. The pending cases involve accusations of theft, terrorizing and harassment.

Bordallo said the department’s small internal affairs division isn’t always able to complete investigations by the deadline, creating a backlog.

“They’re just overswamped with another case, then another case, then another case,” he said.

The Guam Legislature created an independent commission to look into complaints against police officers, but the effort has foundered without financial resources, office space, policies or procedures.

The commission was recently given a meager budget and found office space, but it still lacked the policies it needs to review complaints.

At its most recent meeting, the commission resolved to recess indefinitely until the Guam Legislature revisits the law.

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