Puerto Rico's Police Department is critically “broken,” and officers routinely violate constitutional rights while discriminating against Dominicans, beating innocent people, and failing to investigate sex crimes, says the U.S. Department of Justice after a three-year investigation, reports the Miami Herald. The probe found police officers systematically used excessive force, arrested people without cause, and conducted illegal searches, said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. A scathing Justice Department report calls for wholesale reform in a department where untrained and unsupervised patrol officers run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution and politically connected unqualified peers get promoted.
Perez compared the pervasive police abuses and corruption to New Orleans and Los Angeles in years past. “This is one of the worst departments I've seen,” Perez told the Herald. “Puerto Rico has just about every problem in the book and many problems that didn't make it into the book.” Among them: police regularly failed to follow up on domestic violence complaints, and 1,500 domestic violence reports were filed against cops from 2005 to 2010. From January 2005 to November 2010, 1,709 police officers were arrested for crimes ranging from theft to rape and murder. kAs the murder rate soared past 700, the number of rapes logged on the entire island was just 38. “That's simply not credible,” Perez said. Police Superintendent Emilio Diaz said, “I dare say no agent of the police violated anyone’s civil rights.”