AMID a flurry of media criticism and his leadership being called into question, Guam police chief Paul Suba yesterday stepped down from his post after his meeting with acting Gov. Mike Cruz.
Suba’s resignation was effective yesterday.
“I will take 20 days of administrative leave to ensure a smooth transition and exhaust my annual leave before retirement,” Suba said in a press statement.
Cruz announced the appointment of Major Rick Leon Guerrero as acting chief of police. Leon Guerrero will also continue his role as acting police commander.
Cruz told the media that if Suba had not tendered his resignation, he would have fired him.
Suba came under fire last week as a result of GPD’s search on KUAM studios, where investigators confiscated a document related to the polygraph test for spokesman John Edwards.
Governor Felix Camacho is currently off island. Last week, Cruz urged the governor to replace Suba, saying his lack of leadership has diminished the confidence of the people in the police department.
Cruz said he accepted Suba’s request for retirement after consulting with the governor.
Although Suba’s resignation will mean a change in leadership at GPD, Cruz said he will not lose his faith in the men and women of that department.
Cruz said the decision was difficult for him since he considers Suba a friend.
“Sometimes friends are difficult to part with and for me, it was an issue of making sure our departments are going to be able to do the job that they’re created to do,” Cruz said.
“And so, that was my decision. We needed to find somebody else to do it,” the acting governor said, noting his lack of confidence in Suba’s effective leadership.
Cruz said the governor was aware of his decision to meet with Suba yesterday.
“Obviously, [the governor] is also a friend of the chief’s and I think that he was obviously sad about the fact that we were seeing a friend depart as one of our leaders,” Cruz said. “Hopefully we can restore the public’s confidence in the police department with new leadership.”
Cruz clarified that although the governor said last week he needed more time before deciding on Suba’s fate, the governor never stated that letting go of Suba was a decision he wouldn’t make.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable but the governor never stated that it was not the decision he wanted to make. It was just a matter of getting some investigation and a better understanding of the situation,” Cruz said. “And in my discussions with him earlier, he understood that this was a matter that needed to take place.”
Cruz said yesterday he was confident that Leon Guerrero will restore public confidence in the police department. “We served together in the Guam Army National Guard. He’s a long time veteran of the police force. And at least in my discussions with the rank and file, he’s respected and fair,” the acting governor said.
“The process takes some time and he will be on administrative leave for a period of time as he starts the process of retiring,” Cruz said.
Public safety committee chairman Sen. Adolpho Palacios Sr. said he respected Cruz’s actions on Suba’s resignation, saying the new development at the police force will now allow officials to focus on moving ahead with what needs to be done at GPD.
“There are many distractions that don’t have much to do with police work and GPD needs to move beyond that,” said Palacios.
Palacios said that his oversight hearing scheduled for May 24, 9 a.m. in the public hearing room to discuss the hiring practices at GPD and search warrant application by GPD will be held since it doesn’t particularly focus on Suba, but rather issues that pertain to the department.
Palacios said that he expects last Wednesday’s issued search warrant of KUAM will be a topic of discussion, but Palacios said he will not call into question Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola’s decision to issue one.