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NEWS > 05 October 2007

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Report calls for review of D.C
The D.C. Police Complaints Board, an independent agency that investigates reports of police misconduct, is calling on police to improve the monitoring of complaints that officers fail to respond appropriately to hate crimes, including anti-LGBT hate crimes.

The board delivered the request, part of a nine-page report released Sept. 30, to Mayor Adrian Fenty, Police Chief Cathy Lanier and members of the City Council.

Pointing to a December 2008 City Council hearing on police response to hate crimes, the report says “some members of the public feel [D.C. police] and other crimin... Read more

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International Herald Tribune -
05 October 2007
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Police in Puerto Rico rocked b

For years, police officers in this bleak coastal town seized drugs on raids — then allegedly planted it on dozens of people.

The FBI arrested 10 officers this summer in one of the worst police corruption cases to hit Puerto Rico.

The impact of the scandal became apparent this week when the local Justice Department recommended throwing out cases against 51 people accused of drug offenses in Mayaguez, a town on Puerto Rico's western shores.

The police unit in Mayaguez considered residents of housing projects near their precinct as "targets of opportunity," said Luis Fraticelli, the top FBI official in Puerto Rico, in an interview with The Associated Press.

"They would drive by and they didn't like the kid or whatever, so they would decide to go plant drugs on him," said Fraticelli.

The officers have proclaimed their innocence, but the island's 8,000-strong force has been reeling from accusations of corruption. Fraticelli noted there were nearly 50 federal indictments of police last year.

Just last month, five officers who had belonged to unit in the capital, San Juan, were accused of protecting drug traffickers. Four members of an anti-narcotics unit in the northern town of Arecibo were arrested by the FBI for allegedly planting evidence.

In an episode that was caught on videotape and shown on YouTube and local TV, one officer shot and killed an unarmed man at point-blank range as he was lying on the ground. Another policeman allegedly shot to death his own supervisor inside a police station. Both cases have resulted in first-degree murder charges against the officers.

Puerto Rico's governor and its police chief recently announced a US$14 million (€10 million) plan for increased background checks, drug testing and training for police.

But some residents of the Candelaria complex in Mayaguez, a warren of gray concrete buildings where drug use is rife, say the move comes too late to overcome ingrained mistrust.

A mural painted on a wall enclosing an outdoor basketball court depicts a girl running from a baton-wielding officer under the slogan: "To be poor is not a crime."

Armed with a video camera, Virgen Carrasquillo try to catch police manhandling drug suspects during daylight raids.

Officers regularly stopped her on her motor scooter and made threats about her filming, she said.

Days after she filed a harassment complaint in June, police arrived with a search warrant. After ransacking her apartment, they cited her husband for possession of cocaine that she claims was planted.

"It was all lies," said Carrasquillo, a 30-year-old dance teacher with studs piercing her lip and eyebrow.

Her husband, Xuan Carravallo, 32, was released on bail and returned to selling bottled water at a traffic light outside Candelaria's gates. His case is among 51 that the island's Justice Department says should be thrown out.

According to the federal grand jury indictment handed down in August, police fabricated cases against potentially innocent people over three years. The officers now face between 10 years and life in prison.

Fraticelli said the officers did not seek money, but would not elaborate on their motives.

Prosecutors are reviewing dozens of cases that already went to trial, though Justice Secretary Roberto Sanchez Ramos said few if any people were sentenced to prison on evidence from the Mayaguez officers.

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