Puerto Rico gov’t strengthens public safety in metro area
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and a group of leaders from the Public Safety Department (PSD) announced Thursday that the government strengthened its Anti-Crime Plan in the municipalities of Bayamón, San Juan and Carolina, the ones with the greatest criminal incidence, due to the rise in murders since last year.
Likewise, they stated that the PSD is closely integrated with the federal agencies in the fight against organized crime.
The governor announced that the Task Force of state and federal agencies is being reinforced; that the number of Justice Department (JD) prosecutors was increased from six to 10 in the federal prosecutor’s office; coordination between local and federal agencies in drug trafficking cases has been established; and that federal agencies were given more jurisdiction to collaborate on additional crimes.
Specifically, the governor’s chief legal adviser, Alfonso Orona, stated that this is “the first time” that federal agencies will be allowed to collaborate on investigative processes for crimes such as public corruption and white-collar crimes, sexual exploitation of minors, human trafficking and animal cruelty.
“Without revealing strategy details, let criminals and the Puerto Rican people know that we are vigilant, we are looking for intelligence and we are ready to intervene to take criminals off of the streets and provide quality of life to Puerto Ricans,” Rosselló said alongside Police Superintendent Michelle Hernández, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez and PSD Secretary Héctor Pesquera.
Security reinforcements in San Juan, Carolina and Bayamón, which has an impact on the remaining police regions, will be carried out in phases. The first includes increased vigilance, monitoring and preventive patrolling, identification of organized crime operations, and vehicle intervention.
During this first phase, there will be integration of the Police departments and their communication with municipal Police, Justice and federal agencies. During the second phase, rehabilitation and prevention will be addressed.
PSD consolidation on track
Meanwhile, Orona assured that the consolidation of PSD security agencies is underway, and that the process “is not delayed,” as Pesquera said a few days ago.
“Savings [of $28 million] continue to be contemplated for this year, the process is not delayed. What is clear is that the consolidation process is in phases. We have to guarantee that that administrative consolidation is done so as not to affect the bureaus’ operations, and in a way that doesn’t affect access to federal funds in law and order,” Orona responded to Caribbean Business.
The legal adviser contemplated that by October there will be certain changes concerning bureau consolidations.
The governor said he was pleased with the Police superintendent’s work, despite her alleged clashes with Pesquera and other agency heads. Rosselló denied these allegations and assured “this is teamwork” with “only one mission that will deliver in coordination” and with a “one single direction.”
He added that there has been an 8.8 percent decrease in Type I crimes, an 84 percent conviction rate in Justice cases and an increase from eight to 13 in the number of cases investigated in Justice jurisdiction.
Denies Preferential Treatment at Peñuelas
Lastly, the governor denied that the government has given special attention to security in the Peñuelas Valley Landfill, where for the past weeks protesters have tried to stop trucks carrying Agremax, a material used in Puerto Rico that mixes fly ash and other material for structural fill, road bases and other uses.
“There is no special attention… As with any other incident, it is that when an event occurs the Police reacts,” the official said, denying that there is a larger number of Police officers in the area.
“A number of police officers that’s beyond normal is not being established,” Orona said.