Senators at odds over police gambling

From left, Sen. Frank Blas Jr., GPD Chief Stephen Ignacio, and Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje. (PNC graphic)

The chair and vice-chair of the Legislature’s public safety committee expressed a difference of opinion on the topic of gambling among police.

Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo spoke with Senators Jose Terlaje and Frank Blas Jr. about the investigation into alleged illegal gambling among law enforcement personnel.

Senator Terlaje is the chairperson of the committee responsible for public safety while Senator Blas is the vice-chairperson.

On Wednesday, Senator Blas held an oversight hearing on the Guam Police Department after Sen. Terlaje recused himself due to allegations against his son.

After the hearing, Senator Terlaje said that he would’ve preferred more details about the investigations.

Specifically, he wants to know if they were gambling on the job or on their own time.

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“There’s a big gap between…as far as improprieties are concerned. Gambling on the job, and gambling off the job. I would think that gambling off the job is maybe a lesser impropriety,” Terlaje said.

Senator Blas disagreed with Terlaje.

“Senator Terlaje and I have never had that specific discussion with regard to gambling. Obviously, that’s his opinion. I’m of a differing opinion…that, while partaking in an event that is clearly in violation of the law, whether you be a police officer or you be just another individual in the community…it’s against the law. The law doesn’t differentiate between what gender, what race, and what occupation you have,” Blas said.

Terlaje said that if necessary, he’d like to speak with GPD brass about the matter. And he’d like to do so away from the public eye.

“There are things that cannot be mentioned about publicly until the investigation is done or somebody’s arrested. That’s the way..I’ve been a cop for 18 years … but if something is happening, then I would like to talk to the chief…away from public eyes,” Terlaje said.

In response to that notion, Blas had this to say: “It will certainly serve a subpoena. To…now there’s another individual who’s got information on it. I don’t think I want to go…nor take my colleagues down that road.”

Blas said that regardless of what differences they may have, he intends to focus on his job and completing the work of the committee.

“He’s responsible for his own individual actions and stuff. I would hope that in respect for having me share at least this aspect of law enforcement, that there’s some degree of trust that we get to the end goal, which is let’s build the confidence back with GPD in their service to the community,” Blas said.