Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Police Wife Writes About the “Secret Epidemic” of Police Domestic Violence

This post was originally published at the “Ms. Magazine” blog in October of 2015 by and (who was married to a police officer for 20 years) under the original title “Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence.” (See below for their full biographies.)

Domestic violence takes place in up to a staggering 40 percent of law enforcement families, but police departments mostly ignore the problem or let it slide, write ex-police wife Susanna Hope and award-winning investigative journalist Alex Roslin in their new book, Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence. The following excerpt is adapted from their book, available on Amazon or as an eBook from their website, and is being published as part of the Ms. Blog’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month series.

According to Alex Roslin, “Police Wife” itself has more than 60 pages of appendices giving advice and resources to survivors, family and friends plus recommendations for advocates, police, governments, journalists and researchers.

In order to help survivors and others, they’ve made virtually all of the appendices available for free through their website. Here is the direct link to this extended free excerpt.

The propensity for police to abuse their wives, children, and other family members is, of course, no secret among people who read CopBlock.org. It’s rare that more than a few days go by without a report of a cop having committed domestic violence and several CopBlock Network Contributors have posted about the increased risk that entails marrying or having the bad fortune to be the child of a cop. Obviously, the habitual efforts of Good Cops to cover up the crimes of those Bad Apples, is also a large factor in its commonality.

Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence

In 2009, in Utica, New York, police Investigator Joseph Longo Jr. killed his estranged wife, Kristin Palumbo-Longo, stabbing her more than a dozen times in their home, then stabbed himself to death. One of the couple’s four children discovered the horrifying scene on coming home from school that afternoon.

Police Officer Cop BlockUtica’s then-Police Chief Daniel LaBella said the killing was completely unexpected—an incident “no one could have prevented or predicted.” But Kristin’s family filed a $100-million wrongful-death suit saying city and police officials didn’t do enough about Longo’s troubling behavior before the tragedy.

Kristin had contacted police at least five times in the weeks before she was murdered, saying she feared her husband might kill her and their kids, but police supervisors discouraged her from making reports or seeking a protection order, the lawsuit said. In a preliminary ruling, a federal judge agreed that the police actions may have “enhanced the danger to Kristin and amounted to deliberate indifference.” The city settled the suit in 2013, paying the couple’s children $2 million.

The murder wasn’t an isolated tragedy. It was unusual only because it was so public and so bloody. A staggering amount of domestic violence rages behind the walls of cops’ homes, while most police departments do little about it. In the vast majority of cases, cops who hurt a family member do so in utter secrecy, while their victims live in desperate isolation with very little hope of help. Research shows:

  • An astonishing 40 percent of cops acknowledged in one U.S. survey that they were violent with their spouse or children in the previous six months.
  • A second survey had remarkably similar results—40 percent of officers admitted there was violence in their relationship in the previous year. The abuse rate for cops is up to 15 times higher than among the public.
  • Police discipline is startlingly lax. The LAPD disciplines cops with a sustained domestic violence complaint less strictly than those who lie or get in an off-duty fight. In the Puerto Rico Police Department, 86 percent of cops remained on active duty even after two or more arrests for domestic violence.

It seems incredible that a crime wave of such magnitude and far-reaching social ramifications could be so unknown to the public and yet at the same time an open secret in a mostly indifferent law enforcement community. It is surely one of the most surreal crime epidemics ever—at once disavowed, generalized and virtually unchecked.

Aptly summing up the bizarre disconnect, retired Lieutenant Detective Mark Wynn of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department in Tennessee told PBS in a 2013 story on the issue: “What’s amazing to me is we’re having this conversation at all. I mean, could you imagine us sitting here talking about this and saying, how do you feel about officers using crack before they go to work, or how do you feel about the officer who every once in a while just robs a bank, or every once in a while decides to go in and steal a car from a dealership? We wouldn’t have this conversation. Why is it that we’ve taken violence against women and separated that from other crimes?”

Domestic violence is bad enough for any woman to deal with. Shelters, many of them chronically underfunded, regularly turn away abused women because they’re full, while only about one in four incidents in the wider population ever get reported to police. Hundreds of U.S. communities have adopted “nuisance property” laws that encourage police to pressure landlords to evict tenants who repeatedly call 911 over domestic abuse, further dissuading victims from seeking help.

But abuse at home is far worse for the wife or girlfriend of a cop. Who will she call—911? What if a coworker or friend of her husband responds? Police officers are trained in the use of physical force and know how to hurt someone without leaving a trace. They have guns and often bring them home. And if a cop’s wife runs, where will she hide? He usually knows where the women’s shelters are. Some shelter staff admit they are powerless to protect an abused police spouse. Her abuser may have training and tools to track her web use, phone calls and travels to find out if she is researching how to get help or, if she has fled, where she went.

In the rare case where the woman works up the nerve to complain, the police department and justice system often victimize her again. She must take on the infamous blue wall of silence—the strict unwritten code of cops protecting each other in investigations. The police have a name for it—extending “professional courtesy.” In the words of Anthony Bouza, a one-time commander in the New York Police Department and former police chief of Minneapolis, “The Mafia never enforced its code of blood-sworn omerta with the ferocity, efficacy and enthusiasm the police bring to the Blue Code of Silence.”

It all adds up to the police having a de facto licence to abuse their spouses and children. And it’s a worldwide phenomenon that police families struggle with everywhere from Montreal to Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, the U.K., Australia and South Africa.

The torrent of abuse is virtually unknown to the public, but without realizing it, we all pay a steep price. Domestic violence is the single most common reason the public contacts the police in the U.S., accounting for up to 50 percent of all calls in some areas. Yet, a battered woman who calls 911 may have a two-in-five chance of an abuser coming to her door. Official investigations have found law enforcement departments that tolerate abuse in police homes also mishandle violence against women in other homes.

Abusive cops are also more prone to other forms of misconduct on the job—such as brutality against civilians and violence against fellow officers. We all pay as taxpayers when governments have to settle multi-million-dollar lawsuits with victims of police abuse or negligence. Police domestic violence also has close connections to a host of other problems—police killings of African Americans, sexual harassment of female drivers at traffic stops and women cops, and even more broadly, issues like growing social inequality and subjugation of Native Americans.

And police officers themselves are victims, too. Even though our society calls cops heroes, we give them little support to cope with the pressure of police work. A big part of the job is to wield power to control other people. As a result, policing attracts people who are good at controlling others or may have a craving for that kind of power—and then trains them to use their power better. Control is also the main driver of domestic violence. Is it a surprise then that so many cops are violent at home?

Support the Ms. Magazine Prison and Domestic Violence Shelter Program today and show women fleeing domestic violence that they’re not alone.

Susanna Hope (a pseudonym for security and privacy reasons) is a Canadian professional writer who was married for over 20 years to a police officer. She has two sons and two grandchildren.

Alex Roslin is an award-winning Canadian journalist who was president of the board of the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting. His investigative and writing awards include three Canadian Association of Journalists prizes for investigative reporting, a gold prize in the National Magazine Awards and nine nominations for CAJ awards and NMAs.

Ten Puerto Rican Police Officers Arrested in FBI Corruption Sweep

Puerto Rico Police CorruptionEarlier this week, the FBI announced the arrests of ten police officers in Puerto Rico and stated that they expected there to be additional arrests forthcoming. The arrestees, including a sergeant and a lieutenant, consisted of members of the U.S. territory’s anti-drug unit.

They are accused of stealing as much as $175,000 in cash during drugs, some of which were not legally carried out. They also took bribes from drug suspects they had arrested in exchange for releasing them. In one instance, they allowed a drug-trafficking fugitive to go free in exchange for two high powered rifles. They’ve also been accused of falsifying evidence to justify raids and federal prosecutors are investigating whether people may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, as a result.

In a fairly ironic statement considering the numerous similar abuses of the “War on (Some) Drugs” in general and seizure laws in particular, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez stated:

“These officers used their badges and abused their authority. What appeared to be a legitimate police operation was nothing else but an organized criminal act.”

The Puerto Rican police chief is currently in the process of restructuring the unit in light of the arrests and widespread corruption within it:

Police Chief Jose Caldero said he will restructure the department’s 16 anti-narcotics units and require those in them to undergo polygraph tests, a first for the island’s police agency. There are currently 320 officers in those divisions.

“We will clean house,” he vowed. “We will not tolerate corruption.”

The police in Puerto Rico have a long history of corruption, murder, and civil rights abuses. The Puerto Rican Police Department is currently being monitored as part of a federally mandated 10 year reform program. That was prompted by the arrest of 89 police officers across Puerto Rico by the FBI in 2010 (see embedded video below). In the past five years alone, over 100 officers have been arrested. The reforms have been criticized heavily as incomplete and too slow.

Cover the whole everything in liberty, or at the very least, Liberty Stckers. CLICK HERE

Cover the whole everything in liberty, or at the very least, Liberty Stckers. CLICK HERE

Police Sergeant Rapes Woman in Guayama, Puerto Rico *Updated*

Javy Rodriguez shared the content below via the CopBlock.org/Submit page, which documents an allegation of rape against his mother by a Puerto Rican policeman. The Puerto Rican Police Department has an especially bad reputation in regards to crimes committed by employees of that outfit and a lack of accountability for those crimes, after the fact.

Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico’s Outlaw Police Force” a June 2012 report by the ACLU states: “The Puerto Rico Police Department is the second-largest police department in the United States. It has been plagued by pervasive corruption, domestic violence, and other crime within the police force. The high incidence of criminal conduct among the PRPD’s ranks is symptomatic of a larger institutional dysfunction of the police department’s policing and disciplinary systems.”

*This post has now been updated with new information received from Javy Rodriguez on December 24, 2014. See below the original post for that update.*

Date of Incident: 04/03/2011
Individuals Responsible: Sgt. Javier Gerardo Figueroa Montanez, LT. Madeline Velazquez, Ofc. Gelly, District Attorney Radames Vega, Judge Mary Del Pilar Moreno, César R. Miranda Rodriguez (Secretary of justice in Puerto Rico), and several other unidentified employees of the Puerto Rican Police Department (PRPD)
Outfits Involved: Puerto Rican Police Department (PRPD), Región Judicial de Guayama, Puerto Rico (Guayama Regional Court)
Phone: 787-866-2020
Area Cop Block Affiliate: Currently, there are not any known Cop Block Affiliates in Puerto Rico. To find out how to help advocate for police accountability by starting a local group in your area, consult the Cop Block “Start a Group” page.

Link to Story (In Spanish)http://www.primerahora.com/noticias/policia-tribunales/nota/mujeracusaapoliciadeviolarla-522346/

Puerto Rico: Island of ImpunityOn April 3rd, 2011 at approx. 3 AM, My mother Lillian Rodriguez was walking home from a bar. She decided to walk home since she lived approx. 10 minutes walking distance away from her home. To avoid drinking and driving, she left her vehicle at her mother’s house. While on her way home, she was offered a ride by Sergeant Javier Figueroa, a 22 year veteran of the police force in Puerto Rico, who was on duty at the time, in full uniform, and driving a police vehicle . With all the trust in the world since he was a cop, my mother Lillian boarded his vehicle to get home safe.

Once she showed Javier where she lived, he pulled up in front of my mother’s house, let her out, and followed her to the door. My mother stated to him “There is no need to escort me to the door. I am fine” The cop insisted he would escort her to the door. Once my mother opened the door she went in and he followed her inside aggressively while knocking a hand mirror that was on the table next to the door to the floor. (Which he picked back up and placed back on the table, first DNA evidence, finger prints) He than locked the door behind him and approached my mother aggressively.

Lillian began to ask why is he in her house and why did he lock the door, while telling him to leave immediately. He continued to walk towards her and told her to take off her pants (while holding his gun) Lillian began to cry and asked him “Why are you doing this?” He replied by telling her to shut up and do what he says that “if you scream no one will believe you” “Do not make this harder than it has to be for yourself” He then committed rape and sodomized her in a brutal way with no mercy. After he was done he asked my mother where is the kitchen she pointed to the direction of the kitchen he went and cleaned his penis with a napkin and threw it in the kitchen trash can (second DNA evidence, sperm, fluids).

He quickly left the house and my mother called 911. She then called a friend to tell her what happened and to take her to the hospital. Police arrived at the hospital to take a statement from Lillian, but one of the officers, named LT. Madeline Velazquez, is related to the sergeant who committed the crime. This was unknown at the time that my mother gave the statement. In total, four officers where involved in the cover up for the accused sergeant. Each officer committed perjury and lied four times on official statements. Because each officer could not get their made up stories together, they were given four chances to rewrite their statements so that all four statements/stories would add up, make sense, and be presented in court to make my mother seem like a liar and justify charging her with false accusations.

One of the officers, named Gelly, a veteran of 29 years, was suppose to be the sergeant’s on duty partner for that night, but he was dropped off somewhere else. He lied multiple times on a statement, stating that the sergeant was with him at all times. Three months later the DNA evidence of the mirror and napkin the sergeant used finally came back from forensics and confirmed that it was positive that it matched Sergeant Javier Figueroa. The DA quickly made a deal with four officers, including Javier’s partner, that if they testified against the sergeant that they would keep their jobs and not be charged with perjury.

The trial has been going on for two years already. The DA, Radames Vega from Tribunal of Guayama, Puerto Rico, has been manipulating my mother’s case, tampering with the officers and my mother’s statement to try and clear the sergeant of any wrong doing, so he can get his job back. Javier is on paid administrative leave for over three years and six months now (since 4/8/2011). My mother’s case is being carried out with an unfair bias, even the judge, Mary Del Pilar Moreno, is leaning towards the sergeant’s favor in this case. I have contacted FBI to investigate this case over and over again for the corruption that is happening but I get no answers.

This case needs media and/or public attention again so this pig and the other four pigs, along with him, get exposed, Puerto Rican Police Department Rape Allegationtaken off the streets, and sent to prison; before it’s too late and this trial is over. Next court date is November 6, 2014 (updated below) to interview the last three witnesses’. The case number is GDP2012-0104. I have posted a link (in Spanish) of a popular Puerto Rican news paper that covered this case when it first came to light and interviewed my mother. She was also on two major TV shows in PR about this case. I have also uploaded a picture of the pig Javier Gerardo Figueroa Montanez who’s Facebook profile can also be found with that name. The profile pic is him on a motorcycle. Just adding that as you may well know PR Police dept run on US government funds and the same constitutional rights apply in Puerto Rico, as here in the U.S.

UPDATE:

Puerto Rican Police Department Rape ClaimAfter posting the original submission, I contacted Javy Rodriguez for an update, since the original court date mentioned was in November. This is his response concerning the current state of the case:

The case was delayed yet again. My mother wrote a letter to the secretary of justice in Puerto Rico he started to investigate the case but the DA in charge of my mother’s case has now refused to continue the case therefore delaying the case and it has been suspended to January but no exact date, the secretary of Puerto Rico is now involved but those officers that committed perjury are still on duty and as far as the rapist sergeant he is still on the street. Attached is a picture of a recent article in the news paper of Puerto Rico. (In Spanish unfortunately). Also, the secretary of Puerto Rico is more involved in the case but we can not put in any trust in his words either. His name is César R. Miranda Rodriguez (Secretary of justice in Puerto Rico).

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