San Juan, May 17 (IANS/EFE) Puerto Rico’s police chief pledged Wednesday to crack down on the doctoring of crime figures on the island, a day after media reports about a probe into law-enforcement officers who allegedly tinkered with the statistics.
“It violates the trust the people of Puerto Rico have in an officer. And if there are cases where it can be shown that a police committed an infraction of this nature, immediate action must be taken,” Hector Pesquera told NotiUno radio.
Local media reported Tuesday that a police captain and two lieutenants in Bayamon, part of the San Juan metropolitan area, were under investigation for allegedly ordering their subordinates not to register certain crimes in an attempt to show a falling crime rate in their jurisdiction.
The investigation is part of a larger probe into how crimes are being recorded in the Puerto Rico Police’s databases.
Some officers, according to the daily El Nuevo Dia, have been downgrading the severity of crimes in recent years and registering them as “type II”, which are not entered into police files.
El Nuevo Dia said the practice became more widespread beginning in 2009 when, despite rising crime, Gov. Luis Fortuno was telling Puerto Ricans that the situation on the island’s streets was improving.
Since taking office in January of that year, Fortuno’s administration has been dogged by high crime rates, especially a spike in murders.
The number of homicides in Puerto Rico rose to 1,136 in 2011, up 15 percent from the previous year and the highest level since statistics began to be kept in 1940.