Puerto Rico: government, US agree on police reform

The government of Puerto Rico and the US Justice Department signed a 106-page agreement on Dec. 21 for reforming the island’s 17,000-member police department. The reforms are intended to address numerous police abuses detailed in a September 2011 Justice Department report; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued its own report on abuses in June 2012. The Justice Department also filed a lawsuit requiring the Puerto Rican government and police department to comply with the Justice Department’s earlier directives, but this was considered a legal formality, since the agreement apparently represents the compliance the US was seeking.

The Justice Department negotiated the agreement with Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño and Police Superintendent Héctor Pesquera, but Fortuño will not be implementing it. Alejandro García Padilla, who defeated Fortuño in a Nov. 6 election, will start his four-year term on Jan. 2, and he has hinted that he may replace Pesquera. The Justice Department gave the Puerto Rican government until Apr. 15 to implement the accord in order to give the new administration time to review its provisions. (El Nuevo Día, Guaynabo, Dec. 21, Dec. 23; Associated Press, Dec. 22, via Arizona Daily Star)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 23.