Monday, February 24, 2014

PR police reform monitor steps down - By CB Online Staff

PR police reform monitor steps down

By CB Online Staff

The federal monitor overseeing compliance with a sweeping reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department required in a settlement between the commonwealth government and the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped down for personal reasons.
Juan Mattos informed U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpí this week that he is leaving the post after just four months on the job.
“It is in the interest of the public and the press that this court informs that Mattos’ resignation is in no way due to the action or inaction of the commonwealth and/or the U.S. and their respective officials,” Gelpí said in a short order. “On the contrary both parties have always acted as expectd by the court and in the best interests of justice.”
The judge urged that a replacement of Mattos’ “caliber” be appointed promptly.
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary César Miranda said Friday he is working with U.S. Justice Department officials to quickly find a replacement.
Mattos, veteran New Jersey law enforcement official from Puerto Rico, was serving as U.S. Marshal for the New Jersey District when he was appointment as technical compliance adviser (TCA) on the Police Department reform in October.
The TCA’s role is to be an officer of the court to monitor, evaluate and report on the island government’s compliance with required reforms.
In July, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Gov. Alejandro García Padilla announced a sweeping civil rights agreement to modernize and reform the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) that resolves a civil suit initiated by the federal government in December 2012 to remedy a pattern and practice of police misconduct.
The agreement represents a joint commitment to effective and constitutional policing and is the product of extensive negotiations between the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), the PRPD and the administrations of García Padilla and his predecessor Luis Fortuño.
The agreement is designed not only to promote constitutional policing, but also to enhance public and officer safety and increase community confidence in the PRPD, according to officials, who said it was among the “most extensive” agreements ever obtained by the DoJ under the police misconduct provision of the Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
The agreement requires corrective action in numerous core areas: use of force, searches & seizures, equal protection, policies & procedures, training, supervision, civilian complaints & internal investigations, community engagement and information systems. The agreement will also provide the public meaningful opportunities to participate in the reform process through periodic community meetings, public reports, civilian interaction committees, community surveys and the implementation of community policing principles.
Officials have said the agreement is expected to be fully implemented in 10 years, but it has no expiration date. The technical compliance adviser will assess and report on the PRPD’s compliance, as well as provide technical assistance to promote constitutional policing. They said the accord is tailored to the unique needs of the PRPD and with a recognition of the public safety challenges facing Puerto Rico. With a diverse mission and a police force of 17,000 officers, the PRPD is the second largest police department in the country.
Puerto Rico government officials have said they need up to $80 million for changes in the first two years.
The accord calls for an initial capacity-building period of four years, which will allow the PRPD to modernize its administrative systems and professionalize its police force.
Through the development of action plans, the PRPD will have broad flexibility to stage implementation and allocate resources to achieve measurable results within established timeframes. Once the plans are implemented, officers in all police regions will have the policy guidance, training, supervision, equipment and support they need to carry out their duties in a lawful, effective and efficient manner.
The DoJ’s December 2012 civil lawsuit followed a thorough investigation of the PRPD’s policies and practices. The investigation uncovered wide-ranging and longstanding deficiencies that gave rise to a pattern and practice of police misconduct, including the use of excessive force, use of unreasonable force designed to suppress protected speech and unconstitutional searches and seizures. The investigation also uncovered evidence the PRPD has failed to adequately investigate gender-based violence, and engaged in discriminatory policing. The PRPD cooperated throughout the investigation and began initiating corrective actions in response to the investigative team’s recommendations and technical assistance.
The department began negotiating an agreement with the Fortuño administration after completing the investigation in September 2011. The negotiations culminated in a preliminary agreement that was filed concurrently with the department’s complaint in December 2012. The court granted a joint request to stay the proceedings to provide the García Padilla administration the opportunity to review and negotiate a final agreement. Once the federal court approves the agreement, the parties will select a technical compliance adviser and begin implementation.
Under the agreement, the TCA will assist in determining whether the terms of the reform plan have been fully implemented in a timely manner. The TCA’s assessment will include a thorough review of PRPD’s policies, training curricula, standard operating procedures, plans, protocols and other operational documents related to the agreement.
The TCA will also assess whether the implementation of the agreement results in constitutional policing, increased community trust and the professional treatment of individuals by PRPD officers. To this end, the TCA will engage community stakeholders including representatives of civic and community organizations, minority communities, lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and transsexual communities, student and labor groups, civil rights organizations, and women’s advocacy groups to ensure they have a voice in the reform process.
The TCA will also assess and report on PRPD’s compliance, as well as provide technical assistance to promote constitutional policing. Once appointed, a replacement for Mattos will assist PRPD officials with the development of action plans to modernize its administrative systems and professionalize its police force.

» Puerto Rico police reform left without supervisor - The San Luis Obispo Tribune
22/02/14 14:35 from puerto rico police department - Google News
Puerto Rico police reform left without supervisor The San Luis Obispo Tribune SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Officials in Puerto Rico are looking to replace a U.S. marshal who stepped down after being appointed to oversee a federally mandated r...

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