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Case Name United States v. Puerto Rico PN-PR-0001
Docket / Court 3:12-cv-02039 ( D.P.R. )
State/Territory Puerto Rico
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 21, 2012, after a thorough investigation, the United States, represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ), filed suit against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its police department pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. § 14141). The ... read more >
On December 21, 2012, after a thorough investigation, the United States, represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ), filed suit against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its police department pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. § 14141). The Government alleged that the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRDP) violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments by engaging in unlawful patterns and practices. Filed along with the complaint was a joint motion for the Court to approve a comprehensive settlement agreement between the parties and also a motion to stay the proceedings.

Specifically, the Government claimed the PRDP engaged in the following practices: using excessive force during routine police activities; relying on unreasonable force in response to public demonstrations; conducting unlawful searches and seizures; and engaging in discriminatory police practices against those who are or appear to be of Dominican origin. The Government further alleged that those practices were the result of longstanding, widespread failures of the department, including inadequate and ineffective investigation and discipline procedures, supervision, and training, as well as officer violence and corruption.

On December 27, 2012, the Court (Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi) granted the motion to stay the proceedings in order to allow the recently elected government to familiarize itself with the agreement and make modifications. And, on January 18, 2013, the Government filed an amended complaint that removed reference to Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory of the United States. This was because, under an old line of Supreme Court cases that established what is known as the Incorporation Doctrine, acquired territories were not necessarily protected by the Constitution and were considered not to be a part of the United States: Congress had the power to decide when/whether to incorporate the territory, which would bestow certain Constitutional status upon the territory.

On April 1, 2013, the ACLU filed an amicus brief in support of the proposed settlement agreement, explaining the results of its own investigations in Puerto Rico, endorsing the comprehensive approach of the agreement, and suggesting a few possible improvements. Puerto Rico's Attorney Gregorio Igartua also filed an amicus brief, except he failed to take up the issue of whether Puerto Rico was an incorporated territory. He argued that the Court could not render a decision in the case without declaring Puerto Rico to be an incorporated territory because the United States was imposing upon Puerto Rico the burdens of full obligation to the Constitution while selectively withholding Constitutional rights, such as representation and voting power in Congress and greater ability to claim access to federal funds, such as federal funding for anti-crime policies.

On July 17, 2013, the parties filed a modified settlement agreement along with a joint motion for dismissal. On the same day, the court (Deputy Clerk Carlos Rodriguez) conditionally dismissed the case while retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement. The 101-page agreement provides a comprehensive set of provisions touching on nearly every aspect of the police department ( PN-PR-0001-0007). It calls for the development of policies on, among other things, the use of force, crowd control and public demonstrations, searches and seizures, and equal protection. It requires better pre-service training and education as well as continued training once recruits become police officers. It contains an array of investigatory, supervisory, and discipline obligations, as well as auditing procedures. To address community concerns, the Agreement establishes a commitment to more appropriate community policing and establishes joint boards of police officers and community representatives. In an effort to obtain nondiscriminatory policing, it also requires PRPD to establish the information systems and collect all information necessary to accomplish the goals of the agreement. Under the Agreement, Puerto Rico is required to hire a Technical Compliance Advisor (TCA) to monitor and report on the department's progress in meeting the goals and requirements of the agreement. The Agreement entailed a four year capacity-building period, subject to the development of Action Plans in each of the substantive areas of the Agreement. The Agreement would last at least 10 years, after which time either party could file for termination of the agreement. However, if Puerto Rico filed for termination, it would have the burden of demonstrating that it had fully and effectively complied with the agreement for at least two consecutive years.

On October 30, 2013, upon joint motion of the parties, the court appointed Juan Mattos, Jr. as the Technical Compliance Advisor. The first compliance report was filed with the court on August 1, 2014 and was ordered to be made public on August 8, 2014. The report noted positive developments.

From 2014 to 2016, the TCA filed status reports every six months assessing the PRDP's progress in implementing the Agreement. Additionally, the PRDP has filed period status reports until the present, delineating the steps taken to implement the Agreement, assessing the status of its progress, and addressing any concerns raised in TCA reports.

On August 1, 2016, the court issued a Transition Order in light of the upcoming presidential election to prevent a transfer of critical personnel that would jeopardize the reform process.

The TCA submitted its fifth biannual report on January 13, 2017. In the report, the TCA noted that the PRDP had made excellent progress in drafting 48 new policies and completed implementation of all 11 substantive areas of the Agreement. The PRDP submitted its Action Plans for each substantive area to the court on June 22, 2017. The report also noted that the PRDP had made important progress in training. However, the report noted three key areas of the Agreement that had not been adequately implemented: promotions, the human resource staffing study, and the reorganization of the Drugs, Vice, and Illegal Firearms Bureau.

The Agreement's capacity-building period ended on October 7, 2018, at which point the compliance period began. In its eighth biannual report covering the period of April through October 7, 2018, the TCA noted several deficiencies relating to the PRDP's implementation of the Agreement. However, in its most recent status report submitted in March 23, 2019, the PRDP countered these allegations of deficiencies and claimed that it has the capacity, power, discipline, and determination to make police reform sustainable. Specifically, the report noted that during the capacity-building period, the PRDP had made significant strides in revising policies and procedures, conducting trainings, acquiring equipment, promoting safety, and providing personnel with the necessary tools to achieve the Agreement's objectives.

As of May 28, 2019, the compliance period is ongoing.

Kenneth Gray - 07/18/2013
Richard Jolly - 11/29/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/19/2018
Eva Richardson - 05/27/2019


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
General
Aggressive behavior
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Pattern or Practice
Pepper/OC spray
Record-keeping
Search policies
National Origin/Ethnicity
Other
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Puerto Rico
Plaintiff Description United States government, following an investigation by the Department of Justice of the polices and practices of the Puerto Rico Police Department.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Filing Year 2012
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:12-cv-2039 (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings Letter
PN-PR-0001-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/05/2011
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
DOJ Executive Summary
PN-PR-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/2011
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Investigación de la Policía de Puerto Rico [Findings Report (Spanish)]
PN-PR-0001-0020.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/05/2011
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-PR-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department [ECF# 2-1]
PN-PR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Acuerdo para la Reforma Sostenible de la Policía de Puerto Rico [Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department (Spanish)] [ECF# 2-1]
PN-PR-0001-0021.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/21/2012
Order [ECF# 7] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0011.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amicus Curiae in Support of Puerto Rico as an Incorporated Territory of the United States [ECF# 26-2]
PN-PR-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of the American Civil Liberties Union as Amicus Curiae [ECF# 27]
PN-PR-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department [Second] [ECF# 57-1]
PN-PR-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minutes of Proceedings and Order [ECF# 58] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0012.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 61] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Approving Selection of Technical Compliance Advisor] [ECF# 86] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion Submitting PRPD’S Progress Report on the Agreement on the Sustainable Reform [ECF# 159]
PN-PR-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Puerto Rico Police Department's First Status Report Pursuant to Requirement 261 of the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform [ECF# 196-1]
PN-PR-0001-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to File First Sixth Month Report [ECF# 203]
PN-PR-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Supplement to the First Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor, June 6 - December 6, 2014 [ECF# 212]
PN-PR-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 213] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor December 7, 2014 - June 7, 2015 [ECF# 245]
PN-PR-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2015
Puerto Rico Police Department's Second Status Report Pursuant to Requirement 261 of the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform [ECF# 255-1]
PN-PR-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Response to the Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor, December 7, 2014 - June 7, 2015 [ECF# 271-1]
PN-PR-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/29/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor [ECF# 306]
PN-PR-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/01/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Response to the Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor, June 8 2015 - December 8, 2015 [ECF# 334]
PN-PR-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to File Fourth Six Month Report to the Honorable Court [ECF# 382]
PN-PR-0001-0035.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Transition Order [ECF# 388] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PRPD's Third Status Report Pursuant to Requirement 261 of the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform [ECF# 404-1]
PN-PR-0001-0025.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Puerto Rico Police Department Fourth Status Report [ECF# 412-1]
PN-PR-0001-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fifth Progress Report for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department [ECF# 451-1]
PN-PR-0001-0027.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor June 10, 2016 - December 9, 2016 [ECF# 464]
PN-PR-0001-0028.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Action Plans to Comply with the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department [ECF# 550-1]
PN-PR-0001-0029.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Stipulated and Order on the Technical Compliance Advisor's Field Assessment Activities [ECF# 602] (D.P.R.)
PN-PR-0001-0030.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Biannual Status Report [ECF# 606-1]
PN-PR-0001-0031.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor December 10, 2016 - June 9, 2017 [ECF# 609]
PN-PR-0001-0032.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Seventh Six-Month Report of the Technical Compliance Advisor June 10, 2017 - March 31, 2018 [ECF# 871-1]
PN-PR-0001-0033.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion Submitting Bi-Annual Status Report Pursuant to Paragraph 261 and Motion for Leave to File Spanish Language Documents [ECF# 1165]
PN-PR-0001-0034.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gelpí, Gustavo Antonio Jr. (D.P.R.) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0009 | PN-PR-0001-0011 | PN-PR-0001-0012 | PN-PR-0001-0018 | PN-PR-0001-0024 | PN-PR-0001-0030 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters , show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0013 | PN-PR-0001-0019
Plaintiff's Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0021
Buehler, Brian D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0014 | PN-PR-0001-0016 | PN-PR-0001-0017 | PN-PR-0001-0030 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Garcia, Lynda (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0030 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0014 | PN-PR-0001-0017
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0014
Lopez, Zazy I (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0014 | PN-PR-0001-0017 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Perez, Sergio (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0021 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0021
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0014
Saucedo, Luis E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0014 | PN-PR-0001-0016 | PN-PR-0001-0017 | PN-PR-0001-0021 | PN-PR-0001-0029 | PN-PR-0001-0030 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-0017 | PN-PR-0001-0021
Trepel, Samantha Kay (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0002 | PN-PR-0001-0003 | PN-PR-0001-0021 | PN-PR-0001-9000
West, Tony (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Annexy-Guevara, Beatriz (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0010 | PN-PR-0001-0014 | PN-PR-0001-0022 | PN-PR-0001-0023 | PN-PR-0001-0025 | PN-PR-0001-0026 | PN-PR-0001-0027 | PN-PR-0001-9000
De Jesus Annoni, Gerardo A. (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Del Valle Cruz, Carlos A. (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Marxuach Torros, Gilberto J (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007
Sanchez Betances, Luis (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0007
Torres-Ortiz, Joel (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0030 | PN-PR-0001-0031 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Gonzalez-Ortiz, Josue (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Igartua, Gregorio (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0006 | PN-PR-0001-9000
Inserni-Milam, Frank D. (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-9000
Klugman, Maura M (New York) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005
Lindblom, Marjorie P. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005
Ramirez-Hernandez, William (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005
Vargas-Acosta, Nora (Puerto Rico) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005
Wizner, Ben (New York) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005
Yanez, Leopoldo J (New York) show/hide docs
PN-PR-0001-0005

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