Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
About 1,000 National Guard soldiers will report for duty Saturday in Puerto Rico, activated by the governor this week to help fight a drug-fueled crime tsunami that has flooded the Caribbean island.
The military personnel will repair police cruisers and join local authorities on patrols in the most crime-ridden areas of Puerto Rico, mainly in poor parts of the commonwealth’s largest cities. One soldier will accompany a police officer on each patrol, said the National Guard chief, Maj. Gen. Antonio Vicens.
“The problem that exists now is that the police are short of personnel,” Vicens said. “What we are going to do solely is to help them. First, we are going to help them with mechanics, provide them with more than 100 mechanics so that their fleet of patrol cars can go out on the street. Once we have that, we are going to have joint preventive patrols.
“You won’t see military vehicles on the street. What you’ll see are police patrols on the street…”
Gov. Luis Fortuno announced the call-up in his annual state of Puerto Rico speech Monday night, saying the help is needed until more officers can be trained. He did not set a timetable.
In a separate development, Fortuno announced Tuesday that U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez Velez had reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and the Puerto Rican Police Department for the federal agency to have jurisdiction over a series of major crimes. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and more stringent federal U.S. laws can apply…
Rodriguez said the agreement will streamline the prosecution of cases and allow federal agents immediate access to some crime scenes.
“We feel very strongly about fighting crime,” she said Thursday. “It’s much better to fight crime together. This is an additional crime-fighting measure.”
There certainly seems to be enough crime to fight, eh?