Guam Authorities To Decide Possible Armed School Security
By Louella Losinio
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 30, 2013) – The decision to arm school resource officers deployed on campus is now in the hands of the Legislature and the Guam Education Board (GEB), said Joleen Respicio, Safe and Drug Free Schools Project manager, during yesterday's school safety meeting held at Speaker Judith T. Won Pat's office.
Respicio reiterated the statement Chief Justice Philip Carbullido made in December about not authorizing school resource officers, or SROs, to carry firearms on school campuses but also leaving the policy decision within the hands of GEB and the Legislature.
"As you know, the probation officers and the marshals at the Judiciary are armed law enforcement officers. Of course, the position would be that in their role as law enforcement officers, they would be armed. However, our position to arm the SROs is completely left to the Guam Education Board and the Guam Legislature as the Chief Justice has said last December. If the decision is not to arm them at the schools, then we respect the decision that's made by the Legislature and GEB," Respicio said.
Currently, there are five SROs deployed in all public high schools on the island. The mission of the program is to enhance a safe atmosphere in the school, foster a positive relationship with the students, provide law-related education, and develop strategies to resolve problems affecting the youth.
The Judiciary of Guam’s project application for the "Programman Inagof li’e," which includes funding for five school resource officers, was approved in January 2012. At that time, the Federal Program Division – in concurrence with GDOE's Programman Inagof li’e – provided assurances that the application does not provide for the procurement of weapons, uniforms, or other auxiliary equipment.
Meanwhile, acting Police Chief Maurice Sayama warned that arming SROs while deployed on campus is not the answer, adding the Guam Police Department also shares his perspective on this matter.
"This is where we are coming from. We get complaints from parents day in and day out who see officers walking into schools with their weapons. It is a concern that they have," Sayama said.
He also said it is necessary to look at other factors leading to the shooting incidents at schools and other public places which have been reported all over the U.S.
"When you take into consideration the different incidents that have happened worldwide or nationwide, you know when you take all of that and try to find the common denominator, the common denominator is the mental illness," Sayama said.
Mitigating the cause at the root, moreover, requires funding and expertise – needs that shouldn't be ignored, he stressed.
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