Saturday, April 20, 2019

Lawmakers propose dismantling of Puerto Rico Public Safety Department

By on February 26, 2018

SAN JUAN – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) minority Rep. Ramón Luis Cruz and Sen. José Luis Dalmau on Monday presented a bill to repeal the law that established the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety (DSP by its Spanish initials).

The lawmakers said they believe that the elimination of the DSP would reduce bureaucracy, save public funds and return responsibility to the various security agencies to deal with emergencies immediately.

A repeal of Act 20-2017 would restore the duties of the Puerto Rico Police, the Fire Department, Medical Emergencies, State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (Aemead by its Spanish acronym), the 9-1-1 emergency calling service, the Institute of Forensic Sciences, the Bureau of Special Investigations, and the Safety and Public Protection Commission.

“Today we face an unprecedented security crisis and [Public Safety Director] Héctor Pesquera has not been able to effectively manage the Department of Public Safety nor implement an anti-crime plan that will produce results,” the PDP legislators stated. (Juan J. Rodríguez / CB)

“The security issue is out of Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s hands. Today we face an unprecedented security crisis and Héctor Pesquera has not been able to effectively manage the Department of Public Safety nor implement an anti-crime plan that produces results. This administration continues with a pattern of ill-advised decisions that have disastrous consequences for our people. So the first step is the repeal of the DSP, and…the $250,000 Pesquera is paid,” Cruz Burgos said at a press conference.

For his part, Dalmau Santiago argued that “the people experience and suffer the insecurity in the streets, in places of recreation and even in their homes as a result of the failure of the Department of Public Safety that Pesquera directs. The increase in the numbers of murders, carjackings and break-ins is alarming. It’s hard to go out on the street or to stop on a highway shoulder without having the great possibility of becoming another victim of crime in mind. How much more has to happen for the government to take action?” he questioned.

The legislators said the administration created the DSP in March with “the belief it would result in a more effective strategy in the fight against crime and with the expectation it would produce savings for the government. However, almost a year after its approval, the results have been contrary to expectations. The Fire Department without communications or equipment; Forensic Sciences failed in [with the deathcount] after the hurricane; Emergency Management has no coordination and is disconnected from working on the emergency, during and after, its recovery coordination duties were eliminated; 9-1-1 System without direction.”

The lawmakers continued listing reasons why their party considers Pesquera was failing.

“We have an agency that has been disintegrating with the questionable exits of the director of the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management, and the executive director of the 911 System. We have a leadership crisis and a dislocation in the chain of command of the Police, which also caused the departure of the commissioner [Michelle Hernández]. Eight out of 10 murders are not clarified and there is chaos in the management of the emergency after Hurricane Maria,” they said.

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