Puerto Rico police unions demand the ouster of a public security secretary


San Juan, Puerto RicoWhile Puerto Rico faces a wave of violent crime, the leaders of the unions of the forces of the order of the island demand that the governor Ricardo Rosselló dismisss the Secretary for Public Security, Héctor Pesquera.

"If the governor does not make the decision that the people want, he will be fully responsible for the misfortunes, murders and bloodshed on our island," said the sergeant, representative of the police union. Gregorio Matías told CBS News.

Matías and other officials of the Puerto Rican Law Enforcement Union surrendered Wednesday to the Capitol in San Juan, to demand Pesquera's ouster. Matías called Pesquera an incompetent leader and accused him of demoralizing Puerto Rico 's security forces during an already trying period.

The Puerto Rico Department of Public Security oversees the Police Departments, Fire Fighters, Forensic Institute, Medical Corps and Emergency Management Units and Disasters of the Island, as well as the local investigation office. His secretary is at the discretion of the governor.

A spokesman for the governor's office did not respond to CBS News' requests for comment and Pesquera canceled an interview with CBS News scheduled for Wednesday.

In recent weeks, growing crime and gang violence – including killings in broad daylight – have invaded Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation of two powerful hurricanes and years of economic instability.

Douglas Leff, a senior FBI official in Puerto Rico, told CBS News that the island was facing a "crisis of violence" fueled by drug trafficking and gang wars.

A San Juan resident said he noticed a change in crime.

"The pilos no longer be ashamed, "said José Pacheco, a car technician, referring to the offenders by a term used locally.They know that there are not many police officers in the area. They expect more than it's black to kill someone. "

Some residents have the Rosselló government was the object of strong criticism, saying that it had not deployed enough police on the streets.

Matías, who is still an active officer, said the Puerto Rico police had been decimated in recent months as many officers went to the mainland with their families to look for work with better pay and better pay. advantages.

"Because no one is listening to their concerns, the officers are resigning, about 1,200 officers left the force last year and are now working in the (continental) United States," Matías said. "There is no future for a police officer in Puerto Rico, they do not have any health or pension benefits."

The Resident Commissioner of the Island and Non-Voting Member of Congress, Jenniffer González asked the departments of Homeland Security and Justice Wednesday in Puerto Rico to strengthen their "law enforcement capabilities and personnel" to combat the "sense of impunity and legality" among the 3.2 million or so US citizens living on the territory.

"Safety should be the first priority," Gonzalez told CBS News. "I mean, if you can not feel safe at home, if you can not go to work safely, I mean, it weighs heavily on the economy of the island. heavily on the quality of life of all Puerto Ricans ".

David Begnaud contributed to this report.