Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Puerto Rico: Violent Crime Unrelenting as Yet Another Chief of PRPD Takes the Helm Dec. 1

According to The Latin American Tribune, violent crime continues relentlessly in Puerto Rico, where ten citizens were slain over the weekend amid a wave of violence that residents hope can be halted by the new chief of police, veteran New York City retired cop, James Tuller Cintrón, who is in his early 60s.

Murders committed to date in 2013 number 809, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) said Monday (November 26), leaving Chief Cintrón to serve as the FIFTH chief of police since 2009.

While that total is 57 less than the death toll a year ago, it remains alarming for a territory of only 3.7 million inhabitants, particularly considering that Puerto Rico's homicide rate is nearly double that of Chicago, which renders Puerto Rico having a higher murder rate than any US city on the Mainland.

Interestingly, Puerto Rico with 809 murders has already exceeded Chicago's homicide rate (333), the highest in the Continental US, with a population of 2.7 million.

Tuller, introduced by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration as someone who took part in “sweeping” crime from the streets of New York, is due to take charge of the PRPD on December 1.

COMMENT: The change forced on the police high command by the resignation in late October of Hector Pesquera, who gave no reason why he was stepping down, obliged the government to find a substitute promptly for the office of superintendent.

Officials in San Juan settled on Tuller, a New Yorker of a Puerto Rican mother who lived as a child on the Caribbean island, and until recently was chief of transportation with the New York Police Department.

The new chief of the PRPD will not only have to deal with criminals in the streets, he will also have to implement a reform plan adopted to settle a US Justice Department lawsuit against the PRPD over civil rights abuses and widespread corruption.

We wish Chief Cintrón the very best of success in his new challenge, as taming a corrupt police department with a history of human rights violations is no small task. 

As a side note, I strongly discourage tourists from visiting Puerto Rico until such time as Chief Contrón has had an opportunity to reduce violent crime, say by the end of December 2014.

In the interim, business travelers to Puerto Rico are urged to be extremely security conscious relative to essential travel, as they are entering a territory fraught with violence.