Last week Fortaleza served as host for US Attorney General Eric Holder, who was on the island the sign a cooperation agreement between the US Department of Justice and the Government of Puerto Rico to reform the territory’s police force, one of the largest in US jurisdiction.

The DOJ released a statement on the agreement, indicating that:

The agreement resolves a civil suit initiated by the department in December 2012 to remedy a pattern and practice of police misconduct by PRPD. The agreement represents a joint commitment to effective and constitutional policing and is the product of extensive negotiations between the department, PRPD and the administrations of Governor Alejandro García-Padilla and his predecessor Luis Fortuño.

The agreement is designed not only to promote constitutional policing, but also to enhance public and officer safety and increase community confidence in PRPD. The far-reaching agreement is among the most extensive agreements ever obtained by the department under the police misconduct provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and requires corrective action in 11 core areas. These areas include use of force, searches and seizures, equal protection, policies and procedures, training, supervision, civilian complaints and internal investigations, community engagement and information systems. The agreement will also provide the public with meaningful opportunities to participate in the reform process through periodic community meetings, public reports, civilian interaction committees, community surveys and the implementation of community policing principles.

The agreement is expected to be fully implemented in ten years, although there is no expiration date. A technical compliance advisor will assess and report on PRPD’s compliance, as well as provide technical assistance to promote constitutional policing.

With the signatures of Holder and Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, the process to reform the Police of Puerto Rico begins, as a way to prevent  a lawsuit the territorial government is akin to avoid, following the scathing revelations of the department’s investigation.

During Holder’s visit, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) also met with the attorney general, to discuss the federal government’s role in strengthening security in the islands of Puerto Rico to fight rampant drug trafficking.

Pierluisi also discussed the upcoming Senate hearing on the results of the 2012 status plebiscite, urging Holder and the Obama administration to attend and present their position on the political status of the island. “The people of Puerto Rico deserve respect, which is why I expect that the representative of the Obama administration recognizes that our people rejected the current status, since from now on we will have to focus on the options that we have available, including statehood,” Pierluisi insisted.