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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Investigation of Puerto Rico Police Department (Dripps)

Dripps The DOJ report of its investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department under the Rodney King Law, 42 U.S.C. 14141, is available online.   Here’s a link to the executive summary in English.

The full report is also online, and both documents are available in Spanish as well as English. 

Here’s the gist of the executive summary:

Many hard working and dedicated PRPD officers serve the public with distinction under often challenging conditions. Unfortunately, PRPD is broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects that are clearly actionable under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 (“Section 14141”). Based on our extensive investigation, we find reasonable cause to believe that PRPD officers engage in a pattern and practice of:

• excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment;

• unreasonable force and other misconduct designed to suppress the exercise of protected First Amendment rights; and

• unlawful searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Today’s New York Times reports that reform efforts, hobbled by starkly limited resources, have been undertaken. 

The DOJ has not yet filed suit; presumably there are negotiations over a consent decree of the sort ultimately filed in Detroit and now in the works in New Orleans, discussed here.

I am confident that institutional reform litigation offers a more comprehensive solution to police misconduct than either individual tort suits or suppression motions.  But if a force must be outrageously bad before it gets investigated (the Detroit, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico forces were all notorious for years before federal action) 14141 actions are a welcome supplement, not a replacement, for damage actions and the e-rule.   

--DD

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