The legislative vice speaker has voiced concern on an insertion into the latest version of the fiscal 2020 budget bill, which she says reduces professional qualifications for the future chief of police.

“When individuals with machetes randomly assault innocent drivers and residents washing their laundry are held at knifepoint in front of their kids, our community should expect more from public safety leadership, not less,” said Vice Speaker Telena Nelson. ”This proposed change not only lowers the bar for the person in charge of our island’s overall safety, it sends the message that we should expect less from our leaders. The people of Guam are right to expect more.”

The provision, which first appeared in Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's version of the fiscal year 2020 budget bill, removes the requirement that the next GPD chief must have “no less than 15 years of progressive experience in a government law enforcement position, including five years at a supervisory command level and five years in a senior position with law enforcement management responsibilities.”

Nelson, who was the chairwoman of the legislative committee on safety during the 34th Guam Legislature, had used the more stringent police chief requirements to introduce bills beefing up qualifications for the directors of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency as well as the Department of Corrections. Those measures are now Public Law 34-170 and 34-167, respectively.

Both measures noted that “in order to serve the people of Guam, persons in appointed positions must be able to bring experience directly applicable to the agency they are appointed. This experience becomes paramount in the realm of public safety (and) require a certain level of experience to ensure the safety of our people.”

Senators have yet to discuss the budget bill for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Guam law requires the Legislature to pass a budget and submit it to the governor by Aug. 31, which is next Saturday.

Senators are expected to discuss the fiscal 2020 budget bill Thursday. Bill 186-35 was reintroduced Monday. This is the third version of the finance committee’s fiscal 2020 budget bill, which projects increased revenue levels among other items proposed by the administration during Aug. 6 budget hearings.