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Government leaders must quickly resolve the causes of the serious Federal Court warnings regarding the deficiencies that prevent them from complying with the agreement to reform and professionalize the Police.

Failing to comply with providing detailed information and reports to Monitor Arnaldo Claudio could lead to serious penalties. The persistent delay in the implementation of corrective plans could lead to contempt charges, fines and non-economic sanctions, and even a federal audit in the Police as warned by federal judge Gustavo Gelpí, who oversees the agreements´ compliance between state and federal governments, to significantly improve the Police performance in critical areas.

These areas include the use of force, treatment of minority groups within the framework of equal protection of the law and without discrimination, and the quality of investigations. Updating and upgrading information systems, training, equipment procurement, handling of complaints, personnel supervision and administration, among others, are equally essential.

Little progress on implementing the corrective measures established in the action plans is constant, despite monitoring and the allocation of federal funds. In the recent court hearing before Gelpí, it emerged that the local government did not use $ 15 million out of a $ 20 million federal allocation made in 2017 to implement changes in the Police. These funds can no longer be used on La Uniformada (Puerto Rico Police Department).

It is the government´s duty to implement the reform, so that the Police reach citizen support and Puerto Rico achieves higher levels of prevention and investigation of criminal activity.

It is necessary for the process to take place without public finances having to suffer another loss due to noncompliance, as has happened with class action litigations due to deficiencies in special education services and prison overcrowding.

In October, the Police training and professionalization process will enter a crucial accountability phase before oversight entities; mainly before the Federal Court.

 The audit mentioned by Judge Gelpí as a possibility in case the breach persists has been chasing the Police since those tough reports from the Federal Department of Justice on civil rights violations, lack of preparation and systemic corruption that forced the reform agreement.

In addition to this, the Police Department faces the challenge of overcoming the $ 30 million budget deficit this fiscal year and the loss of 1,184 officers due to resignations, retirement and post-hurricane exodus. The Monitor's office stressed that there will be no effective reform without a plan that makes appropriate use of human capital. Deficiencies such as assigning 2,029 police officers to administrative tasks that can be carried out by civil employees while investigative units need 774 agents, require urgent solution. It is also necessary that new cadets join the police, since the most recent graduation in 2015.

 Another recommendation of the Monitor, which calls for immediate solution, is the consolidation of security agencies under an umbrella that caused confusion in the chain of command and inefficiency in the execution of orders. The leadership has to motivate its team. It also has to be convinced that the deep reform will ease the obstacles that hinder the quality of the Police work.

 The government of Puerto Rico must put an end to the systemic problems that affect the performance of the Police and make our society vulnerable.


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