Bills seek to improve recruitment, hiring, and retention of law enforcement officers

Senator James Moylan (PNC file photo)

Senator James C. Moylan has introduced two measures and a proposal that seek to achieve a comprehensive plan towards increasing and maintaining the manpower at Guam’s law enforcement agencies.

“Back in 2019, our office initiated a series of village town halls, with the intent of not only discussing the measures we were introducing but also to learn of the primary concerns of the various jurisdictions and of law enforcement agencies. Throughout the process, one thing was certain, in that there were many obstacles with the recruitment, hiring, and retention of law enforcement officers,” Moylan said in a statement. “Agencies like Guam Customs or Guam Police, for example, would face challenges in attaining applicants, and when they did, there were questionable timelines with DOA’s policies, which allowed great candidates to find other jobs because of the wait. Then when you finally hire them, there is the issue with retention, as young officers would find federal law enforcement positions with higher wages. Basically, the government invests in training them, and then the feds sweep and pick them up.”

Moylan’s comprehensive plan comprises three components — recruitment, hiring and retention. The measures proposed are as follows:

Bill 31-36: “The Swift Appointment Modernization Act of 2021” mirrors a similar measure introduced by Senator Moylan in 2019 which modernizes DOA’s policies for two years when it comes to the hiring of law enforcement officers. The changes include enhanced certification listings provided to the specific agencies, a reduction in the timelines for appeals, and authorizing agencies to continue interviews with the anticipation of selected applicants seeking other employment.

Bill 34-36: “The Post-Attraction, Retention, and Incentive Act of 2021”, also mirrors a measure Senator Moylan introduced in 2020, which authorizes the POST Commission to create a General Force Leadership Tier and Pay Scale Plan. The objective is to establish a structure for lateral transfers of officers from one agency to another without impacting their rank, and the creation of a pay scale structure to increase the retention of peace officers in the government. While the intent of the measure is merely to create a pay scale structure, this would allow the legislature to understand what the potential costs may be.

Moylan said he will also continue a conversation he had with GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez and GCC’s President Mary Okada regarding the creation of a Peace Officer Academy at the High School level. The conversation was initiated by the senator in 2019 but was tabled because of the pandemic. The objective is to groom a career path for those high schoolers seeking careers in law enforcement, which would enhance future recruitment while instilling a sense of pride within these students when it comes to the laws of the island.

“While we still need to look at other aspects of public safety, it is critical to have policies in place that assure there will always be a pool to recruit future hires, a streamlined and expeditious process to hire these individuals, and an attractive structure to retain them. I am optimistic that my colleagues will also agree that changes are needed, thus allowing these measures and their discussions to move along. Anything less would be an injustice to the safety of our community,” Moylan said.