SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- US District Judge Gustavo Gelpí has approved the selection of Arnaldo Claudio to serve as technical compliance advisor (TCA), overseeing the implementation of sweeping civil rights reforms under the agreement for sustainable reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD).
The agreement resolved a civil action filed by the Department of Justice in 2012 to protect individuals from the use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures and discriminatory policing by officers of the PRPD. According to the order of appointment, Claudio will begin his term on June 6, 2014.
Under the agreement, the department and Puerto Rico agreed to jointly select a TCA to assist the court and the public in determining whether critical reforms are implemented fully and in a timely manner.
The reforms cover 11 core areas, including use of force, searches and seizures, bias-free policing, recruitment, promotions, training, supervision, discipline, community engagement and information technology.
The TCA will serve a vital role in promoting compliance and the sustainability of reforms. The TCA will also provide substantive expertise and technical assistance to guide PRPD in its implementation efforts and assures the public that PRPD’s progress is evaluated in a reliable, independent and transparent manner.
“Reforming the Puerto Rico Police Department will take a collaborative and sustained effort over the course of many years, and Mr Claudio has enthusiastically embraced that challenge to help restore public confidence and public safety to the people of Puerto Rico,” said acting assistant attorney general Jocelyn Samuels for the department’s Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working closely with Mr Claudio, the court, the commonwealth government, police officers and all of the communities that make up Puerto Rico to ensure the full implementation of fundamental civil rights reforms.”
In the coming days and weeks, the department will work with the commonwealth to assist the TCA in building a cohesive team of subject-matter experts to oversee all areas of the agreement and to engage broadly with PRPD and the community. With the start of his term, Claudio will work to evaluate PRPD’s efforts over the last year and will oversee the development of action plans that will guide implementation during the initial capacity-building phase of the agreement.
The TCA’s assessments will include a thorough review of PRPD’s policies, training curricula, standard operating procedures, plans, protocols and other operational documents related to the agreement. The TCA will also assess whether the implementation of the agreement results in constitutional policing, increased community trust and the professional treatment of individuals by PRPD officers.
To this end, the TCA will engage with a broad cross-section of community stakeholders, including representatives of civic and community organizations, minority communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities, student and labor groups, civil rights organizations, women’s advocacy groups and police officers to ensure they have a voice in the reform process.
District Judge Gelpí entered the agreement as an order in July 2013, following extensive negotiations and a thorough investigation by the Civil Rights Division. The investigation focused on allegations of use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures and discriminatory policing by officers of the PRPD.
The department issued findings of violations and serious deficiencies in September 2011 and filed a civil action to remedy the violations in December 2012. The case was brought under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which authorizes the attorney general to file suit against government authorities to eliminate a pattern or practice of misconduct by state and local law enforcement officers.