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The Hartford Courant
Rivera: Crime Declines In Puerto Rico
January 16, 2004
Unfortunately, "Athlete's Killing Caps A Bad Year: Homicide Rate in Puerto Rico Is Three Times National Average" [news story, Jan. 4] does not accurately portray the commonwealth's fight against crime.
Under the Calderón administration, the island has witnessed a significant reduction in crime resulting from our anti-crime plan that is based on the principles of protection, prevention, integrity and civil participation. Although The Courant's story acknowledges longer police shifts and nighttime patrols, these are just two small components of our plan. Program initiatives also include investing more than $75 million in law enforcement equipment and increasing our police force by 1,450 in 2003 alone.
Gov. Calderón has also presented legislation that strengthens the guidelines for imposing bail as well as proposed projects that would limit the use of firearms and limit residents driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Our efforts are working. Overall crime is on the decline. The statistics The Courant cited regarding violent crimes in 2003 were also inaccurate. The numbers are significant: Rape has dropped by 18.9 percent; robbery by 15.6 percent; assault and battery by 12.4 percent; burglary by 17.7 percent; and drug-related arrests have increased by 450 percent this year. Puerto Rico is now the third-safest U.S. jurisdiction, according to the FBI. Murder rates have fallen significantly from a decade ago.
We have addressed crime head on in the short term, but the Calderón administration understands the real culprits are poverty and lack of education because the majority of crime is restricted to drug-infested, impoverished neighborhoods. The administration committed $1 billion to the Special Communities program, which empowers local residents to determine their own basic needs. The program reaches more than 1 million Puerto Ricans in 686 communities. In addition, we have taken on literacy and surpassed our goal by giving nearly 27,000 residents reading skills.
Through prevention, community empowerment, education and a strong police presence, we will continue to win our war against crime.
Víctor M. Rivera González