Based on the second village meeting on public safety since the random attacks involving machete-wielding men in Mangilao weeks ago, the recurring acts of violence that victimize Guam residents in their homes and on the roads are top of mind for a lot of our fellow islanders.
The most recent town hall meeting, held in Tamuning, heard the voice of a resident in the village, Javier Atalig.
"I don't mean to come up here and point the fingers, but you got to see what I got to deal with every day. I've been robbed already three times. Who is doing anything about it? ... Let's wake up people. This is a very important matter."
Another Tamuning resident, Gregorio Calvo, expressed an observation that captured how things have changed on the island. Many of us are in fear of being the next victim, but he isn't one to easily cast blame on a particular group of migrants.
"We are living in restless times," Calvo said. "Our island – we are going through things. We are Micronesian too. We need to come together and reason together. We are not perfect."
Many of us no longer feel safe in our homes and as we go out in the streets.
There have been suggestions that our faith-based organizations can do something more to encourage the youth especially to be good citizens, and that our Neighborhood Watch groups can do better to be more vigilant. These steps can help.
Ultimately, though, the responsibility of addressing these problems rests on lawmakers, the governor and her administration, and our judges. Enforcement of existing laws must improve, and this requires more people and smarter utilization and deployment of police officers, plus better use of technology. Surveillance cameras in public places, though not popular to some, must be installed if these are what make a different to deter crimes and catch criminals.
There has got to be a review by lawmakers, in consultation with the judges and the administration, on the justice system and why repeat criminals keep getting released from prison and victimizing more people. Drug addiction and poverty are also part of the root causes, but at the bare minimum, the repeat criminals and one-time violent criminals must remain locked up for the full length of their sentences.
In Wednesday's village meeting, retired Airport Police Chief Robert Camacho recommended a need to address the weaknesses in Guam's law enforcement community and those who continue to break the law.
And he's right. We're tired of repeat offenders roaming our streets and neighborhoods, looking for their next victims.
While the meeting was unfolding Wednesday night, our newsroom was placing a story that had a ring of familiarity to it. A homeowner who resides in Tamuning saw a man in his mid-20s peering through his kitchen window. The trespasser, when asked what he was doing on someone else's property, responded that he was "just looking." When the police were called, this suspect was found in possession of methamphetamine, according to court documents filed by a prosecutor. We ran the suspect's name through our files and found that he has been named in at least three cases involving acts of violence since he was 18. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for a beating that left a victim unconscious in 2015, barely four years ago.
It's tough to understand from a layman's view why he's still roaming free in our community, literally peeking through someone's kitchen window.
In this particular incident, we are thankful the homeowner is safe. The outcome could have been tragic.
Senators, governor, judges: Our community no longer feels safe, and it worries many of us. Don't get distracted with issues far less important.