Today, U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí approved the selection of Arnaldo Claudio to serve as Technical Compliance Advisor (TCA), overseeing the implementation of sweeping civil rights reforms under the Agreement for Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department. The agreement resolved a civil action filed by the Department of Justice in 2012 to protect individuals from the use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures and discriminatory policing by officers of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD). According to the order of appointment, Claudio will begin his term on June 6, 2014.
Under the agreement, the department and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico agreed to jointly select a TCA to assist the court and the public in determining whether critical reforms are implemented fully and in a timely manner. The reforms cover 11 core areas, including use of force, searches and seizures, bias-free policing, recruitment, promotions, training, supervision, discipline, community engagement and information technology. The TCA will serve a vital role in promoting compliance and the sustainability of reforms. The TCA will also provide substantive expertise and technical assistance to guide PRPD in its implementation efforts and assures the public that PRPD’s progress is evaluated in a reliable, independent and transparent manner.
The department and the commonwealth selected Claudio after an exhaustive review of potential candidates based on numerous objective factors. These factors included relevant experience with institutional reform, subject-matter expertise, Spanish language proficiency, impartiality, an ability to interact effectively with diverse communities and a strong commitment to civil rights and effective policing. Claudio’s proven record of outstanding performance and achievement demonstrate that he possesses the necessary skills and abilities to effectively carry out the TCA’s duties.
Claudio has the Spanish language proficiency that is contemplated by the agreement and is necessary to communicate effectively in Puerto Rico. He is firmly committed to meaningful community engagement and maintaining a consistent presence in Puerto Rico throughout the reform process. His exceptional work with police departments and criminal justice systems in the United States and around the world will assist in promoting compliance with critical structural and systemic reforms that are necessary to restoring public confidence and achieving effective and constitutional policing in Puerto Rico.
Claudio was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He attended the University of Puerto Rico and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Jacksonville State University and is a graduate of the Inter-American Defense College. During his 30 years of military service, Claudio has held numerous highly sensitive positions culminating as Chief of Staff and Chief of Police of Joint Force Headquarters for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C. In his current position as Interagency Program Director of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, he coordinates directly with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and other national security partners. He also leads critical relationships with governmental and non-governmental agencies to ensure regional safety and security. Many of Claudio’s assignments have allowed him to work closely with police agencies and communities domestically, such as Washington, D.C. and Hawaii, and abroad, including Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and El Salvador. He served as Provost Marshal and Chief of Police of the Multinational Coalition Forces in Iraq, working tirelessly to promote democratic policing and human rights. He also served as Chief of Staff and Operations with the Peace Corps where he oversaw volunteer recruitment, selection and placement. Claudio’s remarkable skill, performance and dedication have been recognized with numerous military and civilian awards and decorations.
“Mr. Claudio’s extraordinary career and service to our nation has been marked by an unwavering commitment to basic principles of human dignity and safety for all people, both here and abroad,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West. “He now brings his exceptional skill and talent home to Puerto Rico to embark in the critical task of transforming the second largest law enforcement agency in the country into a modern, professional agency that serves and protects all residents with respect and fairness.”
“Reforming the Puerto Rico Police Department will take a collaborative and sustained effort over the course of many years, and Mr. Claudio has enthusiastically embraced that challenge to help restore public confidence and public safety to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the department’s Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working closely with Mr. Claudio, the court, the commonwealth government, police officers and all of the communities that make up Puerto Rico to ensure the full implementation of fundamental civil rights reforms.”
In the coming days and weeks, the department will work with the commonwealth to assist the TCA in building a cohesive team of subject-matter experts to oversee all areas of the agreement and to engage broadly with PRPD and the community. With the start of his term, Claudio will work to evaluate PRPD’s efforts over the last year and will oversee the development of action plans that will guide implementation during the initial capacity-building phase of the agreement. The TCA’s assessments will include a thorough review of PRPD’s policies, training curricula, standard operating procedures, plans, protocols and other operational documents related to the agreement. The TCA will also assess whether the implementation of the agreement results in constitutional policing, increased community trust and the professional treatment of individuals by PRPD officers. To this end, the TCA will engage with a broad cross-section of community stakeholders, including representatives of civic and community organizations, minority communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities, student and labor groups, civil rights organizations, women’s advocacy groups and police officers to ensure they have a voice in the reform process.
District Judge Gelpí entered the agreement as an order in July 2013, following extensive negotiations and a thorough investigation by the Civil Rights Division. The investigation focused on allegations of use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures and discriminatory policing by officers of the PRPD. The department issued findings of violations and serious deficiencies in September 2011 and filed a civil action to remedy the violations in December 2012. The case was brought under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which authorizes the Attorney General to file suit against government authorities to eliminate a pattern or practice of misconduct by state and local law enforcement officers.
A copy of the complaint, the final agreement and the September 2011 findings letter can be found at the department website . Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and its enforcement of civil rights laws involving law enforcement agencies can be found on the division website .