Justice Department Report Blasts Puerto Rico Police
A Justice Department report that slams Puerto Rico police for widespread abuses of power, inadequate training and endemic corruption also concludes that the agency’s response to hate crimes on the island remains inadequate.
The 116-page report that the DOJ released on Thursday, Sept. 8, stems from an investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department that began in July 2008. The PRPD is the country’s second largest police department with more than 17,000 officers.
Violent crime on the island increased 17 percent from 2007 to 2009. Violent crime in the United States slightly decreased in 2010, but the FBI’s Violent Crime Index noted that the numbers of murders and non-negligent manslaughters in Puerto Rico rose from 901 to 983 over the same period. 568 murders took place on the island in the first six months of this year--with 101 homicides in June alone.
"A significant number of murders and violent crimes have involved Puerto Rico’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") communities," noted the DOJ report.
The DOJ also noted that the Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s own reports indicate that nobody has been convicted of a bias-motivated crime on the island. Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression were added to Puerto Rico’s hate crimes law in 2002, but activists have long complained that local authorities remain reluctant to apply them.
"PRPD acknowledges a need to improve its handling and investigation of hate crimes, particularly crimes against individuals in the LGBT community," reads the DOJ report. "PRPD should continue to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies and the community to thoroughly and timely investigate potential hate crimes."
Eighteen LGBT Puerto Ricans have been murdered since the beginning of 2010. Alejandro Torres Torres, Karlota Gómez Sánchez and Ramón "Moncho" Salgado were found dead within a 72-hour period in early June.