Can GPD afford to spare its officers during cutbacks?

By Nick Delgado, KUAM
Original article HERE

While faced with making drastic changes to its operations, the Guam Police Department spent the morning hosting its Coffee with a Cop series at the IHOP in Tamuning. It’s an event that allows the community to interact with officers about all things public safety. But, can the department afford to spare its officers at a time when the government is cutting back?

It was breakfast with the men and women in blue. Coffee with a Cop.  These precinct commanders, the chief of police and other officers hosted their series event in Tamuning. A chance for people to get a one on one talk going with police.

GPD spokesperson Sgt. Paul Tapao said, “Have a cup of Joe and get the feedback from the community such as safety and security that they may have.”

It’s been more than four days since the department was forced to close the Hagatna precinct and shift officers to help reduce overtime at DOC. “Chief JI Cruz took that proactive step and gave our marching orders and the guys have really been putting their best foot forward adapting to their new assignments,” he said.

But, with the drastic changes can GPD afford to take these on duty cops off the streets for several hours? Police chief JI Cruz says, yes, telling KUAM, “Now is exactly the time to interact with the community about their safety.” He says they must continue with their community initiatives and that stopping any efforts to be proactive would only put the community at risk.

“We continue the mission and the mission stays the same that we got to provide safety and security for the community,” he said.

While uncertainty lingers for many others like Leanne Bunn, the general manager at the Tamuning IHOP, is hopeful. “It’s kind of scary a little bit but I’m sure the government will work together and come to a solution that will not put our safety or the safety of our visitors at risk,” she said.

GPD leadership also says there have been no negative impacts when it comes to their officer’s response time since the changes were made, noting, “We have the fair amount of officers that’s still without the precinct that still provide that 24 hour coverage throughout the island.”