US Probe Finds Puerto Rican Police Department ‘Broken’

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. Justice Department investigation is criticizing the Puerto Rico Police Department for using violence, violating people's rights and ignoring some crimes.

The findings, published Thursday on the agency's website, cited a pattern of behavior that it said violated both the U.S. Constitution and federal law. Investigators reported numerous instances in which police used excessive force or used force to scare people from speaking out.

Investigators said Puerto Rican police routinely failed to investigate or document sex crimes or cases of domestic abuse. They also accused Puerto Rican police of ignoring crimes against people of Dominican descent.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said the findings show the Puerto Rican Police Department is “broken in a number of critical ways.”

Perez says the Justice Department will work with Puerto Rican authorities to make changes that will restore the public's confidence in the police force as well as to reduce crime.

Crime rates have been soaring in Puerto Rico. The New York Times reports there have been 786 murders this year in Puerto Rico, 117 more than at the same time last year.