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Latino Daily News

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Puerto Rico Top Cop Unexpectedly Resigns

The strategic post of chief of the Puerto Rico Police Department again became a problem for the government when James Tuller Cintron resigned Tuesday after just four months on the job.

Tuller asked that his nomination as head of the PRPD be withdrawn so he could attend to personal matters, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a brief communique.

The former head of transportation with the New York Police Department took charge of the PRPD on an acting basis in December, pending confirmation by Puerto Rico’s Senate.

Some lawmakers charged with ratifying Tuller in his post said his financial-disclosure statements raised issues.

“My only wish in coming to Puerto Rico was to serve my mother’s country that is my country also. From now on I will make no further comments on the matter,” Tuller, the New York-born son of a Puerto Rican woman, said in a brief communique.

The unexpected departure of Tuller leaves the PRPD to face without his expertise a crime rate that in 2011 took the lives of 1,136 people, the highest number since 1940.

The number of murders dropped in 2012 by 11.5 percent and by another 12.1 percent last year.

Garcia Padilla made use Tuesday of a press conference about the island’s increase in rum production to note that during the months Tuller was heading the PRPD, crime dropped by 30 percent.

He said he did not have precise information about the process being carried out by the Senate commission in charge of Tuller’s confirmation.

“The Senate controls that information,” the governor, who has made Col. Juan Rodriguez acting head of the PRPD, said.

Tuller leaves his position having provided continuity for the plan launched by his predecessor, Hector Pesquera, who resigned in late October without giving any clear explantion of why he was leaving.

The lack of stability in the position was already seen when Pesquera was there, from March 2012 to November 2013, after being appointed by then-Gov. Luis Fortuño, whom Garcia Padilla succeeded.

Besides fighting crime, the next chief will have to implement a reform plan adopted to settle a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against the PRPD over civil rights abuses and widespread corruption.

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