A lot of information was researched in order to produce the Governor’s State of the Island Address. As part of our commitment to transparency and accountability, we would like to share this information with you. You can find statistics and trends that speak to the current state of Guam, and how our situation has changed over the years. We will release this in a series of reports over the next several days.
We are kicking off this information campaign with a report on crime. You will be able to find out how public safety agencies and private sector partners are working hard to keep our island safe. You will also see the Governor’s vision for a safe island. More issue-centered reports will be released soon, covering topics like infrastructure, health, housing, and the environment. This is an excellent resource for academics, students, and anyone interested in the true picture of Guam.
Since 2011, the Guam Police Department arrested 8,843 people for violating more than 21,000 different criminal counts. People were arrested for crime codes including drugs, prostitution, reckless conduct, disorderly conduct, alcohol-related crimes, burglary, family violence and much more. While the frequency of each crime differed throughout the year, crimes that involved one person harming the livelihood or life of another occurred the most every year.
A combined total of 1,611 arrests were made for family violence alone in 2011, 2012, and 2013. According to the Governor’s Community Outreach-Federal Programs Office (GCO-FPO), 3,170 victims of family or domestic violence were served during the same period. Considering that Guam’s culture is rooted in family, the crimes within families and against women and children is alarming.
While we should focus on how to punish criminals for ruining the lives of their victims, it is more important to ask what we can do to prevent these crimes from happening.
Research shows that crime is a cycle transmitted through families and linked to economic disparities. Other factors include exposure to drugs and alcohol, low educational achievements, and absent parents or role models.
In 2012 and 2013 we could not escape the stories in the news about women being raped, schools being broken into, and visitors and residents being robbed. These crimes drove island leaders to explore crime-based legislation, hire more law enforcement personnel, and develop programs that would provide meaningful long-term solutions.
The social factors that drive crime in the United States are similar to Guam. Many of Guam’s violent crimes are linked to drugs, alcohol abuse, lack of economic opportunities, lack of a familial structure and educational attainment. Unfortunately, there is not a clear cause and effect relationship when we look at the big picture of crime. It’s a vicious cycle that may begin with opportunities people can access. Poorer communities do not always have supportive family members who reinforce the importance of getting an education. These same individuals can fall in with the wrong crowd and begin making choices that put them in a vicious cycle: committing burglaries and other violent crimes.
Drug Addiction & Trafficking
Substance abuse on Guam remains stable and has not changed significantly over the last three years. PEACE Guam continues its efforts to reach out to Guam’s youth and adults to make Guam an alcohol-free, tobacco-free and drug-free island.
Crystal methamphetamine continues to be the prominent drug of choice on Guam. Just last year, the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency seized more than $15 million worth of this drug, often referred to as “ice.” According to FY 2011 Strategy Update for Drug Control, Guam’s property crime, which consists of burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, is linked to drugs. Drugs and drug trafficking have increased the possession and use of firearms and explosives. GPD’s investigations have found that the number of drug transactions involving the trade and use of firearms and explosives has increased to alarming levels.
Drugs lead to multiple crimes that plague our community. In 2012, GPD made 153 arrests for crimes involving burglary, and in 2013 they made at least 227 arrests.
Other than drugs, crimes involving alcohol frequently top the reasons for arrest. Crimes associated with alcohol are:
- Public drunkenness
- Driving Under the Influence (BAC .08% or more; with injuries; and/or BAC.08% with injuries)
- Liquor law violations
- Drinking in a motor vehicle
- Open container (any possession or transport in a moving vehicle–misdemeanor on a public highway.)
- Improper storage of alcohol.
In 2011 alone, 1,443 arrests were made using these crime codes accounting for 22.3% of the total arrests. Alcohol and drug abuse are factors that lead to other violent crimes: rape, assault, and burglaries. Substance abuse psychologically changes people–hindering their ability to think logically and soundly.
Family & Domestic Violence
Drug and alcohol abuse are also prevalent factors in family violence. The Guam Statistical Yearbook 2012, shows that arrests for family violence is trending lower since 2008.
- 2008, 554 people were arrested for Family Violence
- 2009, 550 people were arrested for Family Violence
- 2010, 507 people were arrested for Family Violence
- 2011, 405 people were arrested for Family Violence
- 2012, 424 people were arrested for Family Violence
These numbers only account for the crimes reported to GPD.
According to Department of Public Health and Social Services, the victims of family violence they help often come from homes where the family member inflicting violence abuses alcohol or drugs. In the 2013 preliminary Adult Arrest Charge report, GPD individuals were arrested for 495 criminal counts of family violence and 156 counts of child abuse. Combined, violence against loved ones accounts for 9.5% of total arrest counts. Note that these numbers only reflect the crimes that are reported to GPD. The GCO-FPO’s coalition partners helped almost 2,000 victims of family violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. The statistics show that nearly one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and nearly 1.3 million women in the United States are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Family violence, like drugs and alcohol abuse, is a vicious cycle. The NCADV indicates the following statistics:
- Children who witness violent behavior between their parents or caretakers have the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior;
- Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults; and,
- 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence abuse children in the household.
Substance abuse, violent crime, and family violence are interlinked. All of these factors ruin lives and destroy homes. They create homes where children grow up thinking that their only options are drugs and crime.
Understanding the Cycle
Education gives children other choices; it lays the foundation for the success of their future. An education gives them opportunities to enter into the workforce, to pursue a career, and lead a life not rooted in crime. However, unlike a life of crime, succeeding in school is not an easy task–it requires a supportive home and a supportive environment. According to The Heritage Foundation; Academic Success Begins at Home: How Children Can Succeed in School indicates that family structure (i.e. the number of parents living in the student’s home and their relationship to the child), and the involvement of parents in their children’s academics are major factors in the educational outcome of children.
In summary, the prevalent crimes on our island prevent parents from actively participating in their children’s education. The lack of support at home leads to discouraged children who resort to what they are familiar with: a life of drugs. Drugs will then segue way to crime–burglary, assault, violent crimes, and family violence. These adults will then have children, and the cycle will begin again.
The social issues facing our community require more investment into Guam’s education system, substance abuse prevention programs, and youth development programs. In order for our island to succeed it’s important to end the cycle of poverty. While we prepare to launch the universal pre-k program, Guam’s law enforcement agencies are fighting crime. The short-term solution to Guam’s crime issue is deterrence and enforcement. This requires immediate changes to the criminal justice system. In his State of the Island Address, Governor Calvo outlined three parts to help Guam’s crime problem in the short-term.
- 1. Hire more police officers to provide a stronger presence of law enforcement. Governor Calvo directed Airport Police and Port Police to act as Guam Police Officers within the Tamuning, Barrigada, and Piti areas.
It’s important to increase law enforcement presence in the community. More officers in the department mean more police officers can be on foot patrol in high crime areas. This year, the administration identified funding for more police and correction officers to keep our community safe. The following positions have been identified:
- 16 police officers from the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget
- 6 police officers from the Fiscal Year 2013 Community Oriented Policing Services grant. Applicants for these positions have already been interviewed, and background investigations will begin shortly.
- 17 police officers requested through the Fiscal Year 2014 Compact Impact Assistance grant
- 30 new correction officers will be funded through the 2013 Department of Interior Compact Impact funding.
- 18 correction officers will be hired through the general fund.
- 2. Expand the existing prison facility to keep criminals locked away until they’re no longer threats to society.
The DOC facility was built to house 382 inmates and detainees. In 2011, DOC’s average daily population was 627 individuals, in 2012 it was 652, and in 2013, DOC housed 699 inmates and detainees. DOC’s inmate population as of 2014 is 236, leaving room for 146 detainees. The overcrowding limits DOC’s mission from providing prisoners with a range of work and other self-improvement and rehabilitative programs to reduce the recidivism rate among inmates and help them adopt a crime-free lifestyle.
Senator Brant McCreadie introduced a bill in the 32nd Guam Legislature called “The Department of Corrections Construction Initiative Act of 2013” to build a new DOC Correctional facility. The bill ensures that the design of the new building allows for DOC to enhance its rehabilitation programs to ensure that work opportunities are provided for all inmates to engage. Rehabilitation programs may include farming, gardening, art production, and other industry trades that will help re-integrate inmates into community life. The Guam Economic Development Agency is working with Senator McCreadie to identify a funding source for this legislation.
- 3. Policy changes in the justice system to ensure that criminals go to jail for as long as it takes, and not for the length of a plea bargain.
The effective prosecution and sentencing of criminals is a good tool to deter crime. Unfortunately, plea bargains can send the wrong message to both criminals and victims. Last year, a high profile case involving a young man nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat ended with plea bargains for those guilty of the crime. The defendants, who admitted to brutally beating the victim, were initially charged with attempted murder along with a special allegation of possession and use of a deadly weapon. As a result of a plea bargain, one defendant was convicted of aggravated assault (as a second-degree felony). This conviction carries a sentence of just three to seven years in prison. The second defendant received an even lesser punishment. He pleaded guilty to assault as a misdemeanor, a crime that has a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Worse yet, the victim’s family was not notified about the plea deal before executing it with the court.
In a similar case last year, a man was convicted of attempted murder, first-degree robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary. The defendant forced his way into a Nimitz Hill Home, and pistol-whipped the victim during the course of the burglary. Her injuries left her paralyzed on her right side. As a result of this conviction, the perpetrator was sentenced to two terms of life in prison.
These short-term solutions combat crimes that are perpetrated against the community, but long-term solutions are also important because they will prevent crimes from being committed. The long-term solution to Guam’s crime problem is much more complex than hiring more police officers, and there isn’t a simple answer.
Long-Term Solutions to address Social Issues
Guam needs to address the social ills that plague our island. The long-term solution is in prevention through outreach and education. The Guam Behavior Health and Wellness Center, GMH, DPHSS provide social programs to Guamanians to help families overcome drug abuse and family violence.
In 2011, Governor Calvo signed Executive Order 2011-03 for the Governor’s PEACE (Prevention Education And Community Empowerment) Council. In 2014, PEACE council published a draft of the Guam State Prevention Enhancement Comprehensive Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. The plan focuses on substance abuse prevention and early-intervention to lay the foundation of a healthier island. The goals are:
- Prevent or reduce consequences of underage drinking and adult problem drinking
- Prevent suicides and attempted suicides among at-risk populations
- Reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse
- Prevent substance abuse and mental illness
- Develop and enhance policy and funding to support needed services for behavioral health
- Enhance behavioral health workforce development initiatives
The Department of Education has direct access to 31,000 children each school year. In the Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, Governor Calvo outlines the implementation of a universal pre-school expanding DOE’s reach. If approved by the Legislature, GDOE will begin shaping the lives of Guam’s four-year-olds. This is an opportunity for parents to give their children a head start at succeeding, even though they cannot afford daycare. The other implication is that parents who stayed home because no one could watch their kids can now find meaningful employment and provide a supportive home for their children.
The Department of Youth Affairs helps their clients turn from a life of crime through their Jumpstart Program and Aftercare Program.
- The Jumpstart Program abbreviates the length of incarceration in DYA facilities and allows their clients to prove that they can alter their negative behaviors within their school, home and community. Staff provides intense monitoring and clinical services. Through court approval, parents/legal guardians can also prove to the court that they can assume this responsibility in providing appropriate care and supervision to their child.
- The Aftercare Program continues to monitor their youth and offers rehabilitation services, mentoring and tutoring. Under this program, nearly all clients leave DYA and are not readmitted to their facility.
- In 2013, 97% of clients who participated in the Aftercare Program did not return to the facility.
- In 2012, no client returned to the facility after participating in the Aftercare Program.
- In 2011, 94% of clients who participated in the Aftercare Program did not return to the facility.
The Bureau of Statistics and Plans currently administers federal grant programs that help Guamanians access treatment and rehabilitation for behavioral issues, substance abuse, treatment, and youth gang violence prevention. These grants include:
- Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Program. This is a correctional treatment and rehabilitation program. Its goal is to provide substance abuse treatment, domestic and family violence treatment, sex offender treatment, and terrorizing and assault treatment to adult offenders so they can maintain healthy lifestyle and become productive citizens. This will reduce recidivism.
- Project Safe Neighborhoods. The Judiciary of Guam received this grant to help reduce the rate of youth delinquency, youth violence and gang memberships in Guam’s elementary and middle schools.
- Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners (RSAT). This program is run by the Department of Corrections. The funds from this grant are used to enhance the DOC RSAT program to provide substance abuse treatment to prisoners while incarcerated.
Research shows that treatment strategies are effective in preventing and reducing illicit drug use. Guamanians who are suffering from substance abuse and family violence can access the following programs:
For those receovering from substance abuse and addiction
Safe Exchange/Visitation for Children
For Women and Children Only
For ages 8-18
These programs provide Guamanians the tools they need to succeed in the workforce and at home. As we look to the future, investment in these social programs will have positive long-term effects. Studies show that an initial investment of $1 in early childhood education will prevent a later investment of $9 into public safety, criminal justice, and welfare programs.
Customs & Quarantine
Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency (CQA) is Guam’s first line of defense from drug sales and other crimes. Officers enforce hundreds of federal and local laws and regulations to protect our borders and secure points of entries. The agency plays a unique role as well–the safe movement of 95% of everything we consume, and the integrity of our commodities from black markets.
CQA sees first-hand the drug problem facing our community. They confiscate narcotics and contraband being smuggled in every day by travelers, through the mail, or through large cargo packages. The officers have been increasingly successful. In 2011, CQA seized almost 1,834.81 grams of Marijuana and 3,067.62 grams of methamphetamines being smuggled into Guam. In 2012, CQA’s efforts resulted in confiscating 2,969 grams of Marijuana and 15,394.8 grams of methamphetamines and in 2013, customs confiscated 19,003 grams of methamphetamines with a street value of $15 million. Officials credit increased efficiency, passion, and diligence from Custom officers on this upward trend of confiscation.
The Customs officers are also key in ensuring drugs are kept away from schools and workplaces with their Drug Detector Dog Unit (DDDU). In 2011, Customs’ Drug Detector Dog Unit performed four sweeps at schools, which resulted in two positive alerts. In 2012, the DDDU went through six schools with two positive alerts and three GovGuam agencies resulting in negative alerts. In 2013, the DDDU had no requests from DOE, but still conducted five sweeps with one positive alert.
Educating our community about drugs is important. With the increasing numbers of methamphetamine arrests, Custom officers are actively involved in community outreach programs, DDDU demonstrations, and participation in Drug Prevention campaigns. CQA presents to students about possible careers in Guam Customs and the importance of their role on Guam. Officers also participate in annual campaigns such as Red Ribbon Week, Law Week, Guam National Guard Drug Prevention, and other community events educating Guamanians about drug prevention.
In 2014, CQA trained and hired 20 new customs officers. In the first three weeks after graduation, these officers helped apprehend two people carrying drugs in their travel bags with nearly 450 grams of ice.
Guam Police Department
GPD currently has 297 uniformed police officers and 129 Civilian Volunteer Police Reservists. At any given time there are 20 uniformed officers and 8 to 10 CVPR’s patrolling neighborhoods, arresting criminals, investigating crime and testifying in court.
In the last three years, GPD focused on augmenting their police with reservists and CAPE volunteers. Since fiscal year 2011, GPD hired 13 police officers through federal funding, and 19 more police officers through FY14 funding and funds from the Tourism Attraction Fund (TAF). Right now, GPD is actively recruiting 22 more police officers.
GPD has overcome many personnel and equipment challenges through their community programs, and partnerships with private organizations. GPD’s CVPR’s receive the same training and have the same authority as full-time police officers. The difference is that they serve on a volunteer basis. Many times, GPD uses CVPR at large events for crowd control or to patrol tourist areas during high-traffic seasons. CVPR’s role is critical in assisting precincts or patrol departments that face manpower issues.
To augment the police force, Governor Calvo announced in the State of the Island plans to hire 100 more additional police and correction officers.
In 2013, GPD was fortunate enough to receive donations from businesses and organizations to help them with their mission. These donations include:
- $956 for vehicle repairs from Cars Plus
- $6,000 for repair services of motorcycle from Pacific Island Club of Guam
- $12,500 for lethal Tasers
- $2,500 for vehicle repairs for the Highway Patrol Division
- Donation of a 9-week old female German Shepherd Dog
- Donation of a 8-week old German Shepherd Dog
- Renovation of the Matapang Beach Koban in Tumon by PMT Guam Corporation dba Pacific Micronesia Tours
- Refurbishment of the Tumon-Tamuning Precinct
- Donation of a Kawasaki Police Motorcycle for the Tumon-Tamuning Precinct
- 2 Chevy Impalas were repaired and donated by AK Toyota
In 2014, GPD received eight additional vehicles purchased through FY13 Compact Impact funds. In February 2014, the GPD Safe Boating office received a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat from a USCG Recreational Boating Safety grant to enhance their search and rescue missions. This new boat is the largest in GPD’s fleet. It can carry 18-people, compared to the two to three passenger capacities of GPD’s other water vehicles. This new equipment will help GPD enforce boating and marine laws around our island and save more lives in the water.
Following a series of violent crimes, the Governor directed law enforcement agencies to collaborate with GPD to create the Criminal Justice Strike Force through Executive Order 2014-02. The Criminal Justice Strike Force brings together Guam Police Department, the Guam Airport Police, the Port Authority Police Force, the Law Enforcement Division of the Department of Agriculture, the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Youth Affairs, the Mariana Regional Fusion Center and the Department of Homeland Security.
The mission of the Criminal Justice Strike Force includes crime prevention and deterrence through vigilance, interagency collaboration and public awareness initiatives. In its first three weeks, the Criminal Justice Strike Force investigations have resulted in 90 arrests.
The Criminal Justice Strike Force assists GPD’s mission by helping in:
- Calls for police service
- Assistance rendered to patrol
- Field interrogations
- Traffic stops
- Residential neighborhood security checks
- Government building security checks
- Private business security checks
- Search warrants
- And robbery surveillance
In a one-week period, the CJSF conducted 262 residential neighborhood security checks and 239 private business security checks. Their presence has assisted GPD in apprehending criminals and deterring future crime.
Guam Police Department conducts operations to reduce the instances of crime. One ongoing program is Operation Dragon. This program targets the issue of public drunkenness and drunk driving. In the past, Operation Dragon was only visible during the summer months when students were out of school and during the Christmas season.
In 2014, Operation Dragon is working in conjunction with the Criminal Justice Strike Force to increase their visibility in the community. Operation Dragon includes setting up random DUI checkpoints throughout the weekend and along major roadways. The officers of Operation Dragon are more proactive in identifying potential offenders by increasing their presence near small mom and pop stores.
Department of Corrections
The Department of Corrections has a unique responsibility of protecting our community from convicted criminals and those offenders awaiting trial through control and rehabilitation. The DOC facility houses 243 inmates and an average of 400 detainees a day. Inmates are criminals found guilty by the courts and serving a sentence. Detainees are those who have not been found guilty and are waiting to go to trial or a decision by the court.
DOC has 163 correction officers supervising a daily average of 700 detainees and inmates. Since 2011 DOC hired 12 correction officers and a full time doctor to fill vacancies in the department created through resignations, terminations and retirement. Right now, DOC is recruiting 48 correction officers, a psychiatric technician, and nurses. Thirty of these positions were awarded through the 2013 Department of Interior Compact Impact funds, and 18 will be funded through GovGuam’s general fund.
DOC has four facilities for inmates and detainees:
- Adult Correctional Facility consists of 19 housing units which houses immigration detainees, and minimum, medium and maximum security inmates. ACF also houses overflow from detainees from the HagÃ¥tÃ±a Detention Facility.
- The HagÃ¥tÃ±a Detention Facility, houses pre-trial detainees, and U.S. Federal Marshall Detainees.
- Women’s Facility is Guam’s only holding facility for women and houses all female offenders.
- DOC also has a Community Corrections Center for inmates who are classified as minimum-out and eligible for work credit, work release, and educational release.
The Adult Correctional Facility was built to house 382 inmates and detainees. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, DOC’s daily population was on average 660 individuals. The overcrowding issue at DOC puts our community’s safety at risk. The administration supports the proposal to build a new correctional facility. GEDA is engaged with Senator McCreadie in a financing solution here.
As part of their mission, DOC helps inmates learn trades and access treatment for substance abuse. Inmates eligible for these programs must be close to their release date. One DOC rehabilitative program is the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program (RSAT). The RSAT program is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Justice, and administered through Guam’s Bureau of Statistics and Plans and implemented by DOC. RSAT provides individual and group treatment activities for inmates. RSAT develops their clients cognitive, behavioral, social, vocational, and other skills to solve the substance abuse and related problems.
DOC has had 19 RSAT cycles, helping individuals overcome substance abuse before they are released from prison. Since fiscal year 2011, 43 individuals participated and graduated from the RSAT program.
This program helps those incarcerated for drug abuse overcome their addictions before they are released from jail to reduce the chances of resorting to a life of drugs upon their release.
It’s not enough to invest in programs and fund our public safety agencies. We must focus on ending crime by improving the quality of life for all Guamanians. The Calvo-Tenorio administration focuses on improving education, employment, building stronger families, and helping the most vulnerable of our community.
The safety of our island is paramount to the lives of each and every Guamanian. This is why the reduction of crime, through both short- and long-term solutions and policies is a high priority of the Calvo Tenorio administration.
The short-term solutions will address Guam’s immediate concerns now. Investing in our public safety agencies and providing adequate manpower to them will ensure that our neighborhoods are safer. As stated above, the Governor and the public safety agencies have a number of policies to combat crime now, including:
- Increasing the number of public safety officers
- Increasing drug seizures at our borders
- Increasing patrols in our neighborhoods and performing regular sweeps of island businesses
- Engaging the community through programs like the Criminal Justice Strike Force and neighborhood watch programs
- Expanding the capacity to house convicted criminals and detainees at the Department of Corrections
- Supporting organizations that advocate for victims and their families
While short-term solutions help to combat crime and punish criminals, deeper strategies and forward thinking are needed to truly reduce crime on Guam in the long-term. These solutions will prevent crime before it happens, and prevent Guamanians from turning to a life of crime. The Governor’s solution is found within his overall vision to create a better Guam, with stronger families, meaningful careers, affordable homes, and schools focused on learning. Our education system is essential in ending the cycle of crime on Guam. We must continue investing in our education system–paying our teachers competitive wages and giving Guam’s children the foundation they need to succeed after high school.
These goals will create stability within our island families, and place children and adults alike on the path to success. This overarching vision will be combined with funding our public safety agencies and investments in crime education, substance abuse prevention, and support programs for our community.
It is important to strengthen the substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs available to Guamanians who need it most. Programs that protect our children and families from family violence need community support. Also, it’s important to provide victims of violence counseling and support to help them overcome the trauma of abuse.
Studies show crime and economic disparities are linked. By leading the island to better days through a strong economy, Governor Calvo is also leading our families to a safer island.
PDF File: State of the Island: Winning the Fight Against Crime