Public safety agencies short-staffed; first ever public safety job fair this Saturday

The chiefs of the Guam Police Department, Department of Corrections, and Customs and Quarantine held a press conference Wednesday morning and talked about their respective agencies’ personnel shortages.

Guam’s public safety agencies are suffering from a chronic shortage of personnel and thinking outside of the box in hopes of garnering interest among the island’s potential workforce, the agencies have come together to host the first public safety job fair slated for this Saturday.

A shortage of personnel has been a reoccurring problem facing the Guam Police Department, Department of Corrections and the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency.

One reason that is shared among the agencies is losing officers to other agencies and even the federal government.

At GPD, there are only 275 officers but ideally the police department should have at least 400 if not 520 officers for Guam’s population.

While GPD Chief of Police Stephen Ignacio says there were 30 potential hires, unfortunately only 25 positions were filled as the remaining backed out for various reasons. That currently leaves six openings for fiscal year 2019 and for fiscal year 2020, there are 15 available openings through federal grant funding.

Ignacio says there is a need to hire more police officers to make sure GPD meets the needs of the community in response to the increase in crimes and also to get staffing levels back up to where they need to be to address the overall needs of the community.

The need for public safety personnel extends to the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency whose director, Ike Peredo, says 34 Customs officers have made the transfer to a federal agency within the last 10 years for better pay and benefits. The allure of a federal job has contributed to a shortage of officers at the airport which, if properly staffed, would require 120 Customs officers manning the airport. But to date, there are only about 60 officers.

“From a Customs standpoint, we have 27 recruit staff that are undergoing the academy right now. That particular 27 will augment the shortage at the airport. We are looking for an additional 30 officers in the next fiscal year and that’s what we are working on,” Peredo said.

Meanwhile, only nine Customs officers are manning the borders at the Port when there should be 23 officers. Peredo says that although Customs is a self-sustaining agency through fees such as the passenger service charge and the cargo inspection fee, the funding generated by these fees is not enough to fund the needed personnel at the Port.

“I am looking at other alternative as far as trying to increase the fees so that I can manage to put more resources down at the port,” Peredo said.

Department of Corrections Director Samantha Brennan is hoping to recruit 30 candidates as corrections officers but a lack of officers means the need to tap into overtime.

Thinking outside of the box, the public safety agencies have come together to host a job fair in hopes of building their workforce and they are calling out all those interested in a career in law enforcement.

The job fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 27, at the Outrigger Resort Mezzanine Ballroom.