U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed here on Wednesday an agreement with the Puerto Rican government to reform the island's police department, thus settling the Justice Department's suit against the PRPD for civil rights violations.
"This agreement (will) guarantee that the public will not become the victim of excessive force, illegal raids and seizures and systematic discrimination on the part of the police," Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said during the ceremony.
The conditions of the agreement, the governor said, are designed to promote and ensure better recruitment, hiring and professionalization in the PRPD.
In addition, the agreement guarantees the establishment of internal controls regarding the procedures to be followed in raids, arrests and seizures.
The U.S. government, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the PRPD will have to select a technical compliance adviser who will be tasked with ensuring the implementation of the pact.
The agreement comes after the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department sued the PRPD for a continuous pattern of civil rights violations.
The suit charges that the PRPD used disproportionate force to break up demonstrations, conducted illegal raids and made improper arrests.
In addition, it points to a high level of corruption in the island's security forces, a lack of adequate training for officers and discrimination against minorities, especially the large Dominican contingent living in Puerto Rico.
Between 2005 and 2010, nearly 2,000 PRPD officers were accused of crimes, including battery, sexual assault, robbery and drug trafficking.
The consent agreement must still be approved by a federal judge. EFE