Police told to open up on Blue House case

David Manila and Anthony Quenqa

Guam Police Department Officers David Manila, left, and Anthony Quenga listen during a hearing at the Superior Court of Guam on April 1. The governor has ordered the police department to ensure that information about the related internal investigation is appropriately reported to the public. The internal investigation was supposed to determine if other officers were involved in the Blue House case and whether an initial investigation was appropriately completed

The police chief needs to meet with the Office of the Attorney General to determine how much information the department can release about its internal affairs investigations, according to a directive issued yesterday by Gov. Eddie Calvo.

“I want GPD to be as transparent as possible with the public about these cases within the confines of the law,” Calvo wrote. He cited the Blue House case, the Emma Cepeda case and any other matter involving internal affairs.

Police have not released the results of a 2008 internal investigation ordered by then police Chief Paul Suba, related to the Blue House brothel case.

The existence of Suba‘s investigation wasn’t public knowledge until late last year, when a series of articles in the Pacific Daily News prompted authorities to reopen the investigation into alleged police involvement with the brothel.

The newspaper during the past several weeks has asked police and the attorney general for the information, including by a Freedom of Information Act request, but it has not been provided. By law, the results of police internal affairs investigations are posted on the department’s website, but there are no posted results for that investigation.

Police have referred any further questions regarding the Blue House case and Suba investigation to the Office of the Attorney General.

The department investigated a complaint that homicide victim Emma Cepeda, who had a restraining order against her estranged husband, had asked the authorities for help in enforcing the order. Her husband, Emmanuel Cepeda, allegedly shot her in the neck and killed her in February.

Bordallo last week said some of the allegations had merit, and that administrative action was taken against three officers, but he declined to say what the officers did wrong, saying it is a confidential personnel matter.

The Pacific Daily News filed a separate Freedom of Information Act request with the police, asking for details of that investigation.

Police said the request was forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for review.

Since then, police haven’t responded to the request and the attorney general’s office has referred questions about the request back to police.

Police spokesman A.J. Balajadia has said the department keeps information related to internal investigations under wraps on advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is responsible for representing the government in the event that an appeal is filed with the Civil Service Commission.

The governor’s directive instructed Police Chief Fred Bordallo to meet with the attorney general to go over the cases and then report back to the governor.

Balajadia confirmed yesterday the department received the directive and said the chief has consistently been in talks with the attorney general about what can and can’t be made public. He also said the directive was part of a government-wide effort to ensure all agencies were being as “transparent as possible.” That transparency, however, must be balanced with the integrity of criminal and administrative investigations, he said.

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