By Troy Torres
Democrat Sen. Clynt Ridgell says he is concerned with the growing perception of police corruption on Guam, and that it's been a concern not just on island, but throughout the nation, for some time.
"I am concerned about police corruption. While these concerns aren’t unique to Guam, they are concerns that I take seriously," Mr. Ridgell wrote to Kandit. "I would note that your question is specifically about the increased 'public perception of police corruption' which is a good thing. I believe police corruption has always been a concern and not just here on Guam but in every country and jurisdiction in the world. I think that the public perception of police corruption has increased because of the rise of the internet and social media. Because of social media Kandit is able to report on things like the Jerry’s Kitchen incident and this reporting has led to the re-opening of the investigation into the incident something that likely would not have happened in the past. This re-opening of the investigation is good, and it is my hope that they will do a thorough and just investigation."
The senator was responding to a question Kandit sent to all Democratic senators in the 36th Guam Legislature regarding police corruption. The Democrats are in control of the legislature, and unanimously selected their colleague, Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje to lead the committee with oversight of the Guam Police Department and other public safety agencies. Mr. Terlaje's ability to lead that committee ethically has come under question since allegations of some of his children and a grand child's involvement in criminal activity has surfaced. We also asked whether he still has confidence in Mr. Terlaje's ability to lead that committee considering the mounting public scrutiny and skepticism.
"Senator Terlaje did hand over the duties of the chair to his co-chairman Republican Senator Frank Blas Jr. when he felt there was a conflict of interest with regards to GPD’s oversight hearing," Mr. Ridgell answered. "I think this was the right thing to do and I think as long as he continues to do this whenever there is a conflict of interest, I will have confidence in his ability to lead the public safety committee."
Asked whether the police chief should be fired in light of new evidence indicating he and his leadership team lied to the public about certain facts in the Jerry's Kitchen case, he responded:
"I do not think the Governor should fire the chief of police at this time."
Four Democrats have not yet responded to Kandit's questions: Speaker Therese Terlaje, Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Sen. Amanda Shelton, and Sen. Telena Nelson.
Senators Joe San Agustin and Sabina Flores Perez were the first to respond.