Puerto Rico police chief out as murders increase
SAN JUAN – As Puerto Rico begins the new year with a rising murder rate, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Monday the resignation of Police Commissioner Michelle Hernández.
The governor designated Lt. Col. Henry Escalera as interim chief until the best resource to oversee the large department is identified.
“[I wish] the greatest success for Colonel Hernández de Fraley, who is now recorded in history as the first woman to lead the Puerto Rico Police, a field traditionally run by men,” the governor said.
Rosselló emphasized that 2017 ended with fewer killings than the previous year and, “while there is much to do,” he held the numbers as evidence that the plans implemented throughout his first year in office “had a positive effect.” However, 27 violent deaths were recorded in the first eight days of 2018, compared with nine last year.
Hernández’s resignation comes amid difficult times for the police force. The Associated Press reports that more than 2,700 officers have been calling in sick on average in recent weeks, compared with the usual average of about 600 daily absences. Serious questions have also been raised concerning the department’s delay in paying overtime.