In the picture, monitor Arnaldo Claudio. (semisquare-x3)
In the picture, monitor Arnaldo Claudio. (Ramón “Tonito” Zayas)

Yesterday, federal judge Gustavo Gelpí approved the methodology to measure the Puerto Rican government compliance with the Police Reform, which starts next Monday, October 8.

This is a new phase in the Reform process that began on June 13, 2013, when the US Department of Justice and the government of Puerto Rico reached an agreement.

The court congratulates the legal representatives, the US Department of Justice, the Police Department and the Department of Public Safety, as well as the federal monitor and his team, for their conscious and diligent work to reach a consensus, said Gelpí.

The methodology was submitted by monitor Arnaldo Claudio and approved by La Uniformada (Puerto Rico Police Department) and the federal Department of Justice.

Claudio stresses that the more than four-year period -of preparation, training and development of policies and action plans- ends and that "we start a different phase of the (federal) Agreement".

That agreement was the result of a lawsuit filed by the federal Justice against the Police, after a three-year investigation, in which they found a pattern of violations to citizens civil rights by La Uniformada.

As of Monday, the monitor will begin to "conduct revisions ... to evaluate the Puerto Rico Police compliance with each of the Agreement provisions."

33 activities of the Reform action plans will still not be evaluated, since the Police requested Gelpí for extensions.

But, in a recent order, the judge reiterated that he will not grant more extensions and, in the last hearing, warned about the consequences of failing to comply.

"I do not want to sound drastic, but noncompliance could lead to economic or non-economic penalties, contempt or receivership," said Gelpi last August.

Claudio uses Gelpi´s warning in his report, as one of the three reasons to indicate that methodology is crucial to comply with the federal agreement for the Reform.

Another reason is that it establishes the expectations that the parties must have for the compliance phase.

While, the third reason is because June 7, 2020 is the date for Claudio to determine if the results requested in the agreement have been achieved or if it will be necessary to include changes recommended by the monitor.

"The Court made it clear that it has the authority to order additional solutions in case of non-compliance," emphasizes Claudio in the report.

The document recalls that the burden to prove compliance rests on the Police. He also stresses that they must prove full compliance for two consecutive years, within the 10-year period since the federal agreement was signed.

The report explains that the evaluation will include both qualitative and quantitative assessments.

According to the report, he could review internal and external documentation, institutional, correspondence, personnel lists, files, administrative reports, memorandums, agreements and work plans, to observe if the direction of the agency is aligned with the Agreement stipulations.

As stated in the methodology, they can also do questionnaires and interviews to personnel in different levels and ranks of the Police.

There will also be focus groups and visits to work areas in order to observe operations and availability of resources.

Regarding quantitative methods, there will be experts in statistics techniques and data analysis.

However, the methodology report states that it is a preliminary version for the first year in the compliance phase and that it will go through changes after evaluations between the parties.

Meanwhile, for the first year, it gives priority to the evaluation of eight areas, which include the review of policies in case additional policies may be necessary to comply with the agreement.

However, it highlights that the compliance assessment in the area of "use of force contains some of the most important requirements of the Agreement” and reaches some of the urgent issues for members of the communities.

Claudio pointed out that the Police must have completed the review of all policies related to the use of force by the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.

"Furthermore, the monitor will carefully review the adoption in the Police of a new system to report the use of force by 2019, which includes officers versions in a use of force indicent," reads the report.

It will also ensure compliance with a system that guarantees that all detentions, searches and arrests are done under the protection of constitutional rights.

Likewise, the monitor will prioritize the review of complaint filing methods and internal investigation in the Police.

He added that the monitor will evaluate if the Police have trained on how to properly handle complaints, on or before the beginning of 2019".

Likewise, they will observe personnel distribution and assignments, taking into consideration the police work in support of communities.

"The Monitoring Plan establishes aggressive but achievable goals for the first year, and establishes the grounds for full compliance of the Agreement in six years," says Claudio's report.

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