Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) has engaged in a pattern and practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law. The investigation, launched in July 2008, was conducted in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.
The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that a pattern and practice of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law occurred in several areas, including:
* Use of excessive force;
* Use of unreasonable force and other misconduct designed to suppress the exercise of protected First Amendment rights; and
* Unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests.
In addition to these findings, the investigation uncovered other serious concerns. In particular, the investigation uncovered troubling evidence that PRPD frequently fails to properly investigate and document sex crimes and incidents of domestic violence, and that PRPD engages in discriminatory policing practices that target individuals of Dominican descent. At this time, the division has not made a formal finding of a pattern and practice violation in these areas, in part because PRPD does not adequately collect data to evaluate these issues.
The Justice Department found a number of long-standing and entrenched systemic deficiencies that caused or contributed to these patterns of unlawful conduct, including:
* A failure of PRPD to implement policies to guide officers on lawful policing practices, including the application of force;
* Tactical units that have been permitted to develop violent subcultures;
* Insufficient pre-service and in-service training;
* Inadequate supervision;
* Ineffective systems of complaint intake, investigation and adjudication;
* An ineffective disciplinary system;
* Limited risk management; and
* A lack of external oversight and accountability.