GUAM POLICE OFFICER ALLEGES COERCION

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By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 19) - Guam
Police Department Officer John Gamboa filed a complaint June 12 with the Civil
Service Commission stating he was transferred because he refused to change a
police report involving an auto-pedestrian accident and because he filed ethics
complaints against certain government attorneys.

In response, acting Police Chief Earl Aguigui said the officer's
transfer was not a retaliatory gesture. He added that he does not condone
attempts to alter official police reports.

"That is a personnel action before the Civil Service
Commission, and Officer Gamboa has the right to take it up before that
agency," said Aguigui, who is pursuing the position of U.S. Marshal for
Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

On March 31, an 8-year-old boy was struck as he was crossing a
Yona street. The driver is the son of Supreme Court of Guam Associate Justice
Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, according to police records.

Gamboa investigated the accident and determined the pedestrian
caused the accident. But, according to Gamboa's complaint, the officer was
instructed to change the report or face an indictment. He said he was
transferred after he refused to alter the report and said that move was based on
"retaliation and harassment."

Aguigui denies this claim.

"The information contained in his appeal is all a
misrepresentation of the facts and that the chief of police does not condone any
type of action whereby official police reports are to be altered because it
becomes unethical and criminal in nature," Aguigui said.

Aguigui said Gamboa was transferred from the Highway Patrol
Division to the Southern Precinct Command and Officer J.P. Balbas was
transferred from the command to the patrol division. Aguigui said he and
Neighborhood Patrol Division Chief Maj. Jesus Togawa made that decision.

Balbas, who has traffic training and is a crash
reconstructionist, was assigned to the Highway Patrol Division before he
resigned from the police department about a year ago, Aguigui said. He recently
returned to the department. Gamboa has been an officer since 1995 and has been
at the Highway Patrol Division since February 2002.

"I needed experienced police officers that have been
assigned to the highway division to man that particular area because of their
expertise and their technical know-how," Aguigui said.

"And because of the rash of fatalities that we have, I need
police officers who are trained to investigate those type of mishaps or
accidents."

Aguigui said it was a "one-on-one" transfer and he
could not leave Gamboa at the highway division, along with Balbas because the
department also needs officers at the Southern Precinct. He noted gang activity,
the situation at Southern High School and a recent fatal shooting as reasons.

"We are all spread thin. If I take one individual out from
any of the precincts to transfer into another area, then that is actually
jeopardizing the manpower level," Aguigui said.

According to Gamboa's complaint, GPD Internal Affairs Officer
John Celis told Gamboa to change the police report on the Yona accident.

Aguigui said he has yet to see the Internal Affairs report
regarding Gamboa, adding it is not complete.

He said it becomes unethical and criminal in nature to even
suggest a report be altered.

"I am going to have to review the statement that is
provided by Gamboa and if that is the statement he is making, that Officer Celis
had told him to change the police report, then we will investigate that
also," Aguigui said.

Attorney General Douglas Moylan said his office is currently
investigating the auto-pedestrian accident and the release of the vehicle
involved in the accident.

"This is a Civil Service Commission matter, and the
attorney general's role in terms of criminal prosecution cannot be tainted by
their filing of this complaint with the Civil Service Commission," Moylan
said.

Commission Executive Director Vern Perez said the board will
investigate Gamboa's complaint and forward a preliminary report to the police
department.

Perez said it could take several weeks for the commission's
investigation to be completed.

"We will address it as best we can and as quickly as
possible," Perez said.

The commission received the complaint last week and assigned it
to an analyst. Perez said GPD officials, Gamboa and any other person who may
have information about the case will be interviewed.

If the police department is found in violation, Perez said it
could face a fine of between $500 and $1,000.

"There is also a marking on the personnel record for
parties found in violation as well," Perez said.

June 19, 2003 

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