Lawmakers tackle bill providing hazard pay for Customs officers

Vincent Perez, the Chief of Customs, spoke in support of the bill. He says so far no payments have been made out to Customs officers. (PNC photo)

The Legislature held a public hearing Wednesday for a bill pursuing hazard pay for Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency (GCQA) officers.

Bill 32-36, introduced by Sen. James Moylan, provides the initial steps for modernizing the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, particularly on how hazardous pay is administered.

The bill was drafted after many discussions with both the management of the agency as well as the Customs officers.

During those discussions, there were a few things that were concerning, according to the senator

Moylan says that while officers qualify for hazardous pay, it is the administrative bureaucracy — the Department of Administration — that determines what constitutes hazardous situations and not the law enforcement officers in the position of leadership who best understand the situation officers face every day.

And the current process is tedious, an administrative nightmare, describes the senator, which creates delays.

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During the hearing, Vincent Perez, the Chief of Customs, spoke in support of the bill.

While GCQA officers face different types of risks while doing their daily responsibilities with the pandemic, Perez said they are exposed to another type of safety and security risk in that no differential pay is paid out.

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Moylan says a similar measure was also introduced in the 35th Guam Legislature supporting hazard pay for customs officers.