HomeNewsBriefPuerto Rico Police Chief Steps Down Amid Record Violence
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Puerto Rico Police Chief Steps Down Amid Record Violence

CARIBBEAN / 29 MAR 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Puerto Rico’s police chief has resigned after less than a year on the job, leaving office in the middle of a record murder wave and reports of widespread corruption within the police force.

Superintendent Emilio Diaz Colon presided over the Puerto Rican Police department (PRPD) during the most violent year in the U.S. territory’s history, which saw 1136 homicides in 2011.

While sudden, Diaz’s resignation was not entirely unforeseen. He had been widely criticized ever since his appointment in July 2011, when he stated that he had no plans to change the way the PRPD operated or to develop any kind of anti-crime strategy. His resignation followed a survey by newspaper El Nuevo Dia which showed only 25% of Puerto Ricans supported the retired two-star National Guard general.

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Diaz is Puerto Rico’s second police superintendent in a row to resign due to accusations of incompetence. His predecessor, Jose Figueroa Sancha, also tendered his (likely forced) resignation in response to a surge in homicides.

Reform of the PRPD, which has been criticized by the Department of Justice for allegations of systemic corruption, has moved slowly. In September, Kenneth McClintock, the territory’s lieutenant governor, told NPR that some analysts suggest it could take as long as 15 years to fully restore the confidence of US federal officials in Puerto Rico’s police. While McClintock said he would prefer the process move faster, that grim assessment of the territory’s police means Diaz’s successor is sure to inherit a difficult job.

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