Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bill 295....Polygraph for Fire Recruits. Is It Really Needed???

Senator Adolfo Palacios has authored Bill 295, which requires any person appointed as a Firefighter to undergo and pass a polygraph examination and a psychological examination, just to name a few of the potential requirements, as a condition of their employment. I can see a few problems with this already. But read the KUAM News story about this by reporter Nick Delgado....

Bill changes requirement at GFD, DOC

Posted: Sep 05, 2011 4:16 PMUpdated: Sep 05, 2011 6:15 PM
Guam - Controversy sparks over a pair of measures that seek to enhance the hiring requirements for the Guam Fire Department and Department of Corrections. Public Safety Oversight Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios wants current Department of Administration hiring requirements for fire fighters and corrections officers mandated.   
As a minimum qualification, Bills 295 and 296 would require all DepCor and GFD uniformed personnel submit to and pass a polygraph examination among other things. "It doesn't get amended unless we are involved and those have proven to be good standards and I don't think it would change it could only get better," said Palacios.
But GFD and DepCor officials wonder how it could get better, and are worried the measure would only make it more difficult for them to add to their already short staffed departments. DepCor spokesperson Lt. Antone Aguon and GFD Spokesperson Joey San Nicolas share the same concern, saying, "This bill intent is good but the issues we are concerned is of course the polygraph side of it, second we already have the POST Commission that is in the process of setting these standards and updating it. So this bill may be a little premature," he said.
"Specifically the polygraph and background investigation, we don't know what the cost to conduct those parts of the hiring process so and as it stands now we have no financial ability to support it should the law be enacted today," he added.
Palacios says the measure would put the two agencies in line with the Guam Police Department's minimum qualifications. He adds either way the POST Commission may have to review both measures, as they play a valuable role in setting the requirements for the island's law enforcement agencies.
Here is Bill 295.....

Page 1

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Well what do you think? I personally think that this bill, though the intentions are good, is a little over the top for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the function of employment qualifications is the responsibility of the Government of Guam Department of Administration, which works closely with the Civil Service Commission, as mandated by Guam law. And of course, as we all know, all the mandates start out in the Guam Legislature.

Secondly, though technically the Guam Legislature can do just about anything they want to do, this function is an  Executive Branch function. Therefore, unless specifically requested by the Executive Branch, the separation of powers between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch should be respected. There is a reason for those separation of powers.

Thirdly, the fire service on a national level, which includes Guam, already has established standards for all the firefighter positions. That is how firefighters, regardless of rank, obtain their National Certifications.

How much more will this cost and who is going to pay for these added costs? Administering a polygraph is not free. Typical charges vary. Here is one sight for reference. And then again, how much would a psychological examination cost and who would administer this? In any regard, these tests will definitely add to the expenses of an already cash-strapped government. A source for these added expenses should be identified within the legislation.

And my last point is that a firefighter is not appointed to the firefighter position until they have successfully completed the fire academy training. This means that they had already been hired as Fire Recruits and had undergone about 6 months of fire academy training. So if this bill, the way it is currently written, proposes to have all of these qualifications required once one is appointed as a firefighter, and that person or those persons do not pass one of the proposed requirements, the Government of Guam has just wasted 6 months of Fire Recruit salary, training and other Government expenditures. This amounts to a lot of money.

I propose that thorough research be done before this bill is place on the docket. A sloppy bill costs everyone a lot of money. This bill is obviously flawed and not necessary. We should expect better work out of an elected official.

If Senator Palacios wants to change the qualifications of any Government of Guam employee, he should work with the entities that are mandated to perform these functions.

Why is Senator Palacios trying to work against the very systems previous Guam Legislatures have help put in place? Does Senator Palacios want to take over all the HR (Human Resources) and Pay and Classifications duties for the Government of Guam??? Then step down as a Senator and put you application in for the job.

I wonder if that would require Senator Palacios to submit to and pass a polygraph and psychological examination? Do you think he would pass??? Who knows....

Until next time....


  1. I agree absolutely on all points. The promotion process accounts for all experience and requirements for the next rank. Requiring that one should have 5 years as a Captain and 5 or 3 years as a Battalion Chief is unrealistic. What if a Captain gets promoted after four years? Then he would be disqualified automatically for the rest of his career and he can't remedy it from that point forward. Add to the fact that promotions in this government and fire service are few and far in between. The promotions in 2008 were after 15 years of no promotions. Who knows when the next one will be.
    Absolutely more research needs to be done on this one and I will close with, "Senator Palacios, I'll take the next number after you and your fellow senators for the background and polygraph test."

  2. My sentiments exactly Anonymous. Set the example Senator Palacios and take the polygraph and especially the psychological exam. I will be in line right behind Anonymous and you. Maybe your office can fund all the expenses of these exams also. Step up....