Noticing that the Police Reform progress has practically stopped, court monitor Arnaldo Claudio threatened to recommend actions to the Federal Court to correct problems in leadership and administration in the Police Bureau.
This, according to the "7th Six-Month Report" submitted by Claudio to Judge Gustavo Gelpí last June, which was released yesterday.
Last week, the monitor and the US Department of Justice told the judge that they favored the removal of the document’s restriction, but that the government of Puerto Rico opposed to it. On Tuesday, the government told the judge that it had no objection against the release of the document.
However, the government warned that they would wait until today to submit any objection to the content of the monitor’s report -which is the final version of the preliminary document that was published last February- and deepens into weight that the creation of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) had on the delay of the Reform.
"The fact that the current administrative structure is not working well has been clearly established during this report’s period, when the progress made towards the implementation of t action plans came almost to a halt," said Claudio.
He added that "the solution is for the Commonwealth to comply with an agreement (between the federal court and the US Department of Justice) that clearly defines the lines of leadership, administration and responsibility in the PRPB (Puerto Rico Police Bureau)".
"If this cannot take place under the current circumstances, I will not hesitate to recommend to the court actions to restore satisfactory progress towards implementation," he warned.
El Nuevo Día sought a response from Police Commissioner Henry Escalera but his spokesperson informed that he would not comment on the issue.
In the report, Claudio points out that when he began with the evaluations, the Police had made important progress in the preparation of action and training plans, on the way to the October 2018 deadline to begin the implementation phase.
But since the creation of the DPS last years, Claudio pointed at the agency as an impediment and now he predicted that the Police will have compliance problems.
"As of this date, my assessment is that the PRPB will not comply with the original four-year training period," said Claudio, mentioning that it includes a four-month extension.
In addition to the problems mentioned in the preliminary report, he noted that in the first quarter of 2018 he found an important delay in the system of investigation and complaints, particularly those related to equal protection and non-discrimination.
He also pointed out that the creation of the DPS "accentuated" the Police budgetary deficiencies, affecting the implementation of the federal agreement and action plans. As an example, he noted that in the past fiscal year 2017-2018 the Police only used $ 8 million of the $ 20 million allocated for Reform issues.
In addition to highlighting the persistence of a "leadership crisis" and "lack of direction" that includes problems associated with promotions, transfers and "questionable overtime practices, Claudio directed attention to the delay in the implementation of the Distribution and Resources Plan, which is a requirement of the federal agreement.
"The Action Plan clearly defines the responsibilities of the Police Commissioner and his team in developing the distribution study and personnel plan, and the decision making process of the commissioner according to the plan. However, current expressions of the secretary of the DPS seem to suggest that he is the one in charge, not the commissioner, and those statements need to be clarified in terms of decision-making processes, as well as in command and control," said Claudio.
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