According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau report, Guam’s total population was just over 153,800.
On Monday, Police Chief Capt. Stephen Ignacio told lawmakers during a Guam Police Department budget hearing that there were only 267 uniformed officers, or less than 300 police officers. Trained public security tasked with guarding streets, neighborhoods, schools, businesses and visitors. in the 19 villages of the island in complete safety.
This equates to approximately 575 citizens for every police officer.
Given the alarming number of prisoners escaping from the Department of Corrections and the alarming nature of crimes involving machetes, riots and assaults that are reported daily, to say that the number of police in Guam is insufficient would be a gross understatement. .
During last year’s budget hearing, the police chief told lawmakers the department would like to have at least 475 officers. We are still far from this goal.
Although the leaders of our island have done what they can to maintain and develop the police force by increasing the salaries of public safety personnel, with new vehicles added periodically to the police force fleet, there is still a lot to do.
The Guam Police Department’s budget request for the coming fiscal year is $48.8 million, of which $44 million will come from the general fund, approximately 82% of which will go directly to personnel-related expenses.
This is $14 million more than the department’s previous budget request.
Although some may see this as a significant increase, can we really put a price tag on public safety?
Given that law enforcement has received various salary increases based on positions and ranks, we believe this increase in demand is insignificant given that $50 million in pandemic-related relief funds could be spent on the construction of a “theme park” in Tumon.
Guam needs to recruit and retain as many public safety personnel as possible, especially as we enter a post-pandemic world, where families everywhere are struggling to put food on the dinner table.