Blue House details possible

blue house guam

Guam Police officers surround the Blue House while other officers execute a search warrant inside on Jan. 14, 2008. Police and the Office of the Attorney General have discussed possible changes to policy related to the release of information on internal investigations. Discussion stem from the limited information released on an investigation into police involvement in the Blue House brothel scandal.

Guam Police Chief Fred Bordallo said he knows the public wants more answers regarding the Blue House brothel case.

While the criminal side of the investigation already has turned up some answers — three police officers were indicted for their alleged involvement at the brothel — the department still is working on its administrative investigation, he said.

One unresolved issue is the department’s failure to release any information about its 2008 internal affairs investigation into Blue House, ordered by then-police Chief Paul Suba.

“We want to hurry up and make sure that all the information is investigated and then closed, so that we can go ahead and — at the guidance of the AG — do a release on what transpired in terms of information and activities that happened way back as far as 2004,” Bordallo said. “That way, there’s closure to that particular story.”

Police officials last Thursday met with representatives from the Office of the Attorney General. The meeting was organized by the Guam Police Department to give insight into how the department handles internal investigations. The two offices had already met after an order from Gov. Eddie Calvo, who wanted the police department to clarify how much information it can release from its internal affairs investigations.

The Guam Blog in recent months has tried, and failed, to get the department to release information about Suba’s Blue House internal investigation.

The police department also will not say what police officers did wrong in the case of murder victim Emma Cepeda, who allegedly was shot by her estranged husband in February.

Three officers were punished following an internal investigation into the Cepeda case, but police will not say why.

Cepeda had a restraining order against her husband at the time of her death, and Guam Legal Services had asked the department to investigate whether she asked police to help enforce it.

“I want GPD to be as transparent as possible with the public about these cases, within the confines of the law,” Calvo stated in his May 16 directive to police.

During Thursday’s meeting, the attorney general’s office said it would reevaluate its position on the release of information from internal investigations. It recently had instructed the police department to withhold some of the details the department used to release to the public on its website.

The results of police internal affairs investigations are now mysterious, with no way for the public to determine what police officers were accused of doing in the first place and what action, if any, was taken against them. The department’s internal affairs policy specifically states that the nature of an adverse action cannot be publicly disclosed.

A recently posted police internal affairs report, for example, states that an allegation of “conformance to laws” was “sustained,” and that disciplinary action was taken. That means a police officer broke the law in some way, but it does not state how.

The internal affairs reports are now written that way because that’s what the law allows, according to the attorney general’s office.

“This is the first time we are formally looking at this,” said Deputy Attorney General Pat Mason, who heads the AG’s civil division.

Currently, the police department, like all government of Guam agencies, is prevented from providing details about employee actions because such actions are considered confidential personnel matters.

Mason said the AG’s current reading of the law is that all files related to internal investigations are confidential unless the employee involved consents to making the information public.

One way that information typically becomes public is when an employee appeals adverse action with the Civil Service Commission, whose case documents are public information.

The attorney general’s office only has the authority to interpret the law and, as a result, can’t unilaterally give agencies the ability to make more information public, according to Mason.

Mason said his office would “look at all aspects” of the issue and provide guidance to the police department on how to proceed.

Mason also said the attorney general’s office is in the process of drafting a response to the newspaper’s Freedom of Information requests for information about the Blue House and Cepeda internal investigations.

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