After four years as the federal monitor of the Puerto Rico Police, Arnaldo Claudio resigned yesterday, denouncing the “waste” of public funds in the Police Reform.
At a time when the oversight of the Police Reform is just beginning, Claudio said that he resigned because he disagreed with the waste and bad use of funds and the lack of trust in the process of the Police Reform.
In an interview with El Nuevo Día, Claudio said that he “lost trust in the process and especially in how the money of the Puerto Ricans is being used in this Reform.” That is why he decided to simply remove his team and leave the process, in order to have “nothing to do with possible ethical violations in the misuse of people's money.”
He added that he lost “trust in the process”, in the way the court is addressing it and how the Department of Justice was left aside. “I have to safeguard the ethical and moral values I have always believed,” he said.
Claudio’s resignation was announced yesterday by federal judge Gustavo Gelpí, through an order in the Police Reform files.
Gelpí’s order states that Federal Monitor Arnaldo Claudio leaving office is effective immediately. Gelpí will not comment on the subject so far.
According to Claudio, his departure “is not a resignation. I am closing the office I opened for this process. I am not presenting any resignation.”
He added that the Reform “is a process that was corrupted due to the waste of money allowed by the court,” and he also questioned the government for replacing the lawyers of the Department of Justice with McConnell Valdés lawyers, with a cost of $ 3.7 million.
He did not specify where he got the figure from. According to the Comptroller's Office registry, the contract with the firm, from December 28 to June 30, 2019, is for $560,000. The Department of Public Safety (DSP, Spanish acronym) confirmed that the funds come from the $20 million annually allocated to the Reform.
As provided in the agreement with the federal government, the Monitor's budget also comes from the same fund. His last budget for the police training period was for $1.5 million annually.
The same funds finance the functions of Special Commissioner Alejandro del Carmen, appointed by the court to assist the Police Department in the compliance process.
In addition to the expenses, Claudio raised ethical questions over the hiring process, including that of the firm, but refused to give details.
Since the Police Department was sued by the federal government in 2012 and until last January, the government of Puerto Rico had been represented by attorneys from the state Justice Department.
Yesterday, the Justice Department indicated that the DSP decided to change the lawyers.
In statements to El Nuevo Día, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez that there was an excellent lawyer working on the case while it was under the Justice Department.
On the other hand, the DSP argued that it was the Justice Department who suggested the change since the compliance stage would require more time and resources and recommended to request an exception in order to have external representation.
“All this is a result of the resignation of the attorney who was handling the case,” added the DSP in reference to Joel Torres, who, however, was replaced by Justice’s attorney Valerie Concepción, from last October until the hiring of the firm.
Meanwhile, in written statements, La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Anthony Maceira did not issue an opinion on Claudio’s departure.
Maceira said that this is a judicial matter on which they will not make other statements but to show deference to the federal panel and the corresponding judicial determination.
“To express ourselves in personal or professional terms about Mr. Claudio, as requested by the media, respectfully, would not be correct,” he added.
The tension between Claudio and Governor Rosselló Nevares peaked last year when a report from the now former monitor pointed to reprisals against FURA officials. The Governor reacted by indicating that none of the police officers appealed their transfers and that the monitor’s actions demonstrated bad faith.