Calling it a “fast track” of “the largest recruitment of corrections officers in recent history,” the governor's office announced Tuesday that letters were sent to 28 potential Department of Corrections officer recruits.
Acting DOC Director Frank Ishizaki sent the letters to the recruits Tuesday, said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's spokeswoman, Janela Carrera.
DOC also is reaching out to about two or three former officers to see if they are willing to return to the department, the press release stated.
Carrera said the department hopes to hear back from the potential officers and returnees within the next week or so.
The potential officers could be manning posts as soon as February.
“Once processed and officially hired, the new employees will undergo eight weeks of training with the assistance of the Judiciary of Guam for transport and electronic monitoring,” the press release stated. “Guam Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission Certification requirements will also be met concurrently with on-the-job training.”
Funding for the new recruits will come from existing budget, the release stated. DOC’s budget for fiscal 2020 is $24.3 million, which falls short of fiscal 2019’s $26 million budget, files state.
The recruitment comes after DOC officers and management raised concerns that the shortage of officers meant shifts lasted up to 24 hours without anyone to provide needed backup when detainees or inmates got out of hand.
Ishizaki, who has formerly lead DOC, said the agency has good men and women “who have been overworked and understaffed for years.”
“While issues like this have plagued this agency for years, we have a governor committed to getting public safety the help it needs,” he added.
“We are making real progress because we are solving problems, not placing blame,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “This is a significant step forward in meeting our commitment to DOC officers and this community. We have already accomplished several goals in our corrective action plan for DOC that includes becoming current on overtime, and altering schedules to deter burnout. And now with the addition of personnel, we are also working on reactivating the Special Operations Response Team. But we aren’t done yet.”
During budget hearing this summer, DOC officials said they have a severe shortfall of officers that left the compound vulnerable.
As of July, DOC had 70 officers are available on any given day to cover both facilities, while standard operating procedure calls for 108 officers to be on duty.
The officers are charged with 503 inmates and detainees at the Mangilao compound and another 187 at the Hagåtna Detention Facility, Col. Alan Borja told senators.