Puerto Rico Police Brutal, Corrupt: Justice Dept.
Scathing report finds department routinely violates civil rights
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2011 12:36 PM CDT
Riot police stand in formation during a protest in front the Capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

(Newser) – Violent crime is on the rise in Puerto Rico—and the police department is part of the problem, a scathing new report from the Justice Department concludes. The department is “broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects,” according to a copy of the report obtained by the New York Times. Police systematically use excessive force, perform illegal searches, discriminate against Dominicans, and attack protesters and journalists to suppress free speech, the report finds. At the same time, officers “fail to adequately police sex assault and domestic violence.”

“Far too many PRPD officers have broken their oath to uphold the rule of law,” the report finds. From January 2005 to November 2010, a whopping 1,709 officers have been arrested (including this major bust), for charges ranging from assault to drug trafficking to murder. The 116-page report is among the Justice Department’s most critical ever, and paves the way for a federal lawsuit. It also recommends 133 immediate changes to radically overhaul the department.