Police chief: GPD needs salary compensation study

GPD Chief Stephen Ignacio (PNC file photo)

The Legislature recently held a hearing on a bill to standardize pay among local law enforcement agencies.

But Guam Police Chief Stephen Ignacio says he has some concerns over the bill.

Bill 34, also known as the Post Attraction Retention and Incentive Act of 2021, aims to develop a standardized pay scale for local law enforcement.

Guam Police Chief Stephen Ignacio told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that although the bill has good intentions, he does see some issues with it.

He said his main concern is that responsibility for developing the pay scale lies with the POST Commission.

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The POST Commission sets standards for training, hiring, and ethics for local law enforcement.

Ignacio said that a pay study is outside the scope of its expertise.

“We don’t have the expertise. When you think about it, who should really be doing wage studies? These things have been outsourced…to the Hague Group…the Port Authority, I think, outsourced it to another group. I believe the Port, the Airport, GPA, GWA…I believe they’ve outsourced these pay studies to professional organizations that have the expertise and background. Nowhere in this bill or in this conversation was the Department of Administration’s HR division involved. And so those were some of my concerns,” Ignacio said.

Although he thinks another organization should do the pay study, Ignacio said that he does believe such a study is necessary.

He gave the example of the pay discrepancy between GPD and the Port Authority Police.

He said that the discrepancy between a police officer trainee at GPD and a Police Officer I at the Port is about seven dollars.

Ignacio said there’s a gap between the two officers that’s almost equal to the minimum wage even though they’re both peace officers under Title 8 of the Guam Code as well as Category I officers under the POST commission.

Also, he said that it’s become increasingly difficult to retain officers when competing with the pay and benefits of the federal government.

“I’ve probably lost about five or six over the past couple of years to Navy Police. I’ve probably lost about four or five to Customs and Border Protection. And so you’re right. We train them up and we get them ready only for them to leave out to other federal agencies,” Ignacio said.

He added: “What do we need to do to attract them? What do we need to do to retain them? You know, one of the officers who’s quitting said that he’s quitting because they’re offering him a better salary..better retirement…better benefits..and you know, he’s right! It’s hard for us to compete with the Defense Department. They’ve got the big money.”