Governor outlines anti-crime platform
The governor pledged to provide the Police Department with the tools, technology and training to do its job.
“We are going to deploy as many police officers as necessary to keep our streets safe,” Fortuño said in a press conference in San Juan.
The New Progressive Party leader was accompanied by his running mate, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, Sen. Melinda Romero, Sen. Liza Fernández and Senate candidate Zoe Laboy, who is a former Corrections secretary.
The governor cited ongoing reforms at a Police Department that has been red flagged by the U.S. Justice Department for civil rights abuses and corruption.
“When we took the reins of government we found a Police Department that was stagnant, disjointed and unable to fight crime efficiently. We are going to finish our reform of the Police Department in the next four years,” Fortuño said in a press conference in San Juan.
Fortuño’s plan is focused on continuing to upgrade training of police officers. He also stressed his aim for even tighter collaboration with federal authorities to combat drug and gun trafficking, and stressed the need for additional federal resources to cut off the island’s coastline to smugglers.
The governor’s platform includes renovations of all precinct houses and launching a program to enlist nonprofit community groups to fix up abandoned structures and areas.
Fortuño said he would install more than 1,000 surveillance cameras in the San Juan metropolitan area through a public-private partnership. That effort would start with a pilot project along the heavily traveled Baldorioty de Castro Expressway, which has been plagued by a rash of car-to-car shootings.
The platform also calls for an effort to break the cycle of domestic violence through an educational program for students.
The governor also pledged “salary justice” for the roughly 17,000 members of the Police Department.
“Our officers are the eyes and ears of our communities,” Fortuño said.
Ex-top cop Caldero endorses García Padilla plan
Fortuño’s election rival, Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla, has enlisted a potentially powerful ally as he targets the governor’s record on crime.
Retired Police Department Col. José Caldero on Monday endorsed García Padilla’s anti-crime platform, saying he helped craft it.
Crime has emerged as arguably the most important issue for voters heading into what is shaping up to be a tight gubernatorial election in November.
Caldero, a former head of the Criminal Investigations Corps and the highest ranking career officer, said the Fortuño administration has failed to address a crime problem that he characterized as a “national emergency.”
Caldero said the chief pitfalls at the Police Department are a lack of administration and low morale among its roughly 17,000 officers, the second largest police force in the U.S. behind New York City.
Caldero left the door open to taking a cabinet position as police superintendent if García Padilla is elected governor in November.
“When the time comes I will consider it,” he said.
Caldero stressed that effective policing must rest on solid data, intelligence gathering, prevention in coordination with municipal police and boosting solve rates by giving detectives more resources.
The former top-ranking officer backed Fortuño’s proposal to give local judges the power to deny bail to suspects in certain murder cases. That proposed amendment to the island Constitution will be put to a referendum in August.