Napolitano tells Congress of PR anti-crime pledge
“I went to Puerto Rico because I am troubled by a number of things in terms of the crime situation there,” Napolitano told members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
The key Obama administration official was in Puerto Rico last week to meet on the issue with Gov. Luis Fortuño, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and high-ranking federal and local law enforcement officials. She emerged from the security summit with a pledge to direct additional federal resources to stem drug trafficking and related violence along the nation’s Caribbean border.
Napolitano told the House committee that she has already gotten to work on her pledge since returning to Washington, D.C., meeting with staff and appointing an internal person to help coordinate on these matters.
“We will reach out to the U.S. Department of Justice, and in particular to the U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico who is very familiar with the local situation,” Napolitano said. “This is going to require all of us working together to reduce the crime level. This is our intention.”
Napolitano’s comments to the committee came after Pierluisi, a member of the panel, asked her to explain her views about, and her vision for a strategy to address, the crime situation in Puerto Rico.
"I am pleased that Secretary Napolitano is addressing this matter with the urgency it demands in Puerto Rico,” the resident commissioner said. “She first gave us her commitment in Puerto Rico, and now she has reaffirmed that commitment before Congress.”
Pierluisi and Fortuño, who are both running for second terms in November, have been pushing for more federal resources to crack down on the problem.
“Let no one doubt that Gov. Fortuño and I are deeply committed to this matter,” Pierluisi said. “Our people deserve peace and security and it is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government to provide for this peace and their security.”
During the visit made to the island by Napolitano and high-ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, Pierluisi renewed his call for the development and implementation of a federal security strategy specific to Puerto Rico and reminded these federal officials that close collaboration and cooperation between all federal law enforcement and public safety agencies is absolutely essential for the success of the strategy.
Additionally, Pierluisi indicated that this strategy should not only involve component agencies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-namely, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Coast Guard (USCG)-but also component agencies of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), specifically the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as the counter-drug operations of the Department of Defense (DOD).
Also, the Resident Commissioner has requested that any federal security strategy resulting from his efforts with Secretary Napolitano and the U.S. Department of Justice, be consistent with and supplement the specific counter-drug strategy being developed for Puerto Rico by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a strategy requested by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.