|A Training and Education Partnership for the Transformation and Sustainable Reform of Law Enforcement in Puerto Rico: Theory and Practice
Dr. Jeffrey W. Goltz
Director, Valencia College, Criminal Justice Institute
Puerto Rico is experiencing record violent crime, and in 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice published a report that indicates the Puerto Rico Police Department has systemic deficiencies. As a result of the findings, the U.S. Department of Justice released an agreement with the government of Puerto Rico that contains nearly 300 mandated actionable policy, training, and education items for the sustainable reform of policing. Prior to the release of the report, a partnership and a criminal justice transformation strategy between Ana G. Méndez University System in Puerto Rico and the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College in Florida began. This article discusses the comprehensive training and academic approach through this collegial partnership to assist with the transformation of policing through a public affairs triumvirate of administration, organization, and community. Theories and practices that support each component of the triumvirate are presented along with major implications for historic change of public safety in Puerto Rico.
Key words: law enforcement; education partnership; governance
A Training and Education Partnership for the Transformation and Sustainable Reform of
Law Enforcement in Puerto Rico: Theory and Practice
The Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), charged with policing the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is the second largest police department in the United States, second only to the New York Police Department. The PRPD’s 17,000 police officers serve the island’s 3.7 million residents. In 2011, the Civil Rights Division within the U.S. Department of Justice published a report that summarized an investigation of the PRPD. The author notes that the commonwealth of Puerto Rico has 78 municipal police departments, separate from the PRPD, and the commonwealth’s municipal police departments are not the subject of the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The report states that the “PRPD is broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects that are clearly actionable under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011, p. 2). The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act provides the U.S. Department of Justice the authority to review the practices of law enforcement agencies, including agencies in Puerto Rico because of the commonwealth status with the United States, that may be violating people’s federal rights. Moreover, the report emphasizes that PRPD officers regularly rely on indiscriminate use of force, or threat of force that is well beyond what is necessary, and excessive force has attracted negative public attention. Additionally, the amount of crime and corruption involving PRPD officers indicates widespread and systemic problems.
The report lists many factors and “systemic deficiencies” that are contributing to constitutional violations by PRPD officers and “the public lacks confidence in the PRPD at a time when Puerto Rico faces significant public safety challenges” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011, p. 8). Most important, the report highlights that the PRPD “has failed to adequately address the institutional causes that contribute to both its unconstitutional law enforcement and ineffective policing” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011, p. 8). The report highlights many contributing factors to the constitutional violations by PRPD officers: 1) policies fail to guide officers on lawful practices, 2) pre-service field training is insufficient, 3) in-service training is virtually non-existent, 4) no external oversight of officer standards and training, 5) tactical units have been allowed to develop violent subcultures, 6) supervision is lacking, 7) internal investigations take years to complete, 8) discipline is seriously deficient, and 9) an inoperable risk management system. The Government of Puerto Rico has recognized the public’s diminishing confidence in PRPD following tragic and violent incidents involving police corruption and misconduct (U. S. Department of Justice, 2011). The report emphasizes that “public safety depends on the trust and cooperation of the community” (p. 2), and indicates that victims’ families, civic leaders, legislators, and civil rights advocates have voiced concerns about police misconduct by the PRPD for many years because of the appalling number of officer arrests and convictions for serious misconduct and criminal activity. A recent survey of 1,000 voting age adults in Puerto Rico conducted from October 1 - 10, 2012, revealed that their main concern was criminality. Crime, corruption, and gender violence were seen as the issues most abandoned by the current administration in Puerto Rico (Primerahora, 2012).
Moreover, Puerto Rico is also experiencing a significant increase in violent crime. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center indicates Puerto Rico and its police force currently confront a public safety crisis of skyrocketing crime and a record-breaking murder rate. The ratio of violent crime in Puerto Rico is much higher than on the mainland, in the United States. A total of 983 murders were reported for 2010, which ended with the second highest murder rate in Puerto Rico’s history. Since 2007, trends in two of the four classes of violent crime (murder and robbery) increased in Puerto Rico but decreased in the United States overall. With 1,130 murders in 2011, nearly three violent deaths per day, the number of murders in 2011 was the highest in Puerto Rico’s history. Puerto Rico ranks 19th in the world based on its per capita murder rate, and in 2009, Puerto Rico’s murder rate was higher than each of the 50 states (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2012).
In August 2010, after a brief discussion of the current systemic problems of public safety and policing in Puerto Rico between Dr. José Méndez, President of the Ana G. Méndez University System (SUAGM) in Puerto Rico, and Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz, a retired police officer from the Orlando Police Department, the leadership and vision of the collaboration and a criminal justice transformation strategy with SUAGM, the central Florida criminal justice community, and the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College began. Dr. Mendez and Commissioner Ortiz both agreed that sustained criminal justice reform in Puerto Rico must occur through academia and best practices. Therefore, a partnership was created to significantly change the training and education of police officers in Puerto Rico while reframing police organizations throughout the commonwealth.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE TRAINING AND EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP
Valencia College and SUAGM come from humble beginnings in the 1940’s and 1960’s, and have evolved into major academic forces: Valencia College in the United States, and the SUAGM in Puerto Rico.
Valencia College has become an innovative leader in education with a national reputation for student success. The college opened its doors in Orlando, Florida, in 1967 as Valencia Junior College and changed its name to Valencia Community College in 1971. Throughout the years, and adopted in 1995, Valencia's faculty and staff put their energies into developing a "learning-centered" approach to teaching. This philosophy emphasizes individual student success and is still in effect today. In 2000, Valencia was recognized for the effectiveness of their student-first philosophy when they were selected by the League for Innovation in the Community College as one of 12 international Vanguard Learning Colleges.
In July 2011, the college was named Valencia College because it began to offer bachelor’s degrees for the first time with the launch of two four-year programs. Also in 2011, Valencia College was named the inaugural winner of the Aspen Prize as the top community college in the nation for 2011-2012. The Aspen Institute, a Washington educational and policy studies center, selected Valencia for this prestigious award based on an overall graduation rate nearly three times that of other colleges, as well as the high job placement rates of its workforce training programs.
Recognized nationally as the best community college in America, Valencia is also one of the largest, with nearly 70,000 students enrolled in 2012 and is ranked fourth among the nation’s colleges and universities in the number of associate degrees awarded. Valencia’s A.S. degree graduates have a 96 percent placement rate with an average annual salary of about $38,000. The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate and Bachelor’s degrees (Valencia College, 2013a).
Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College
In 1996, Valencia College began offering criminal justice training at the Criminal Justice Institute after the program transferred from a central Florida technical school. The mission of the Criminal Justice Institute is to train, educate, and certify criminal justice officers in a world-class 77,000 square foot, state-of-the-art training facility. This institute, with a stellar reputation, is certified by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to deliver all Commission-approved curriculums to law enforcement, correctional, and correctional probation officers in Florida. With the primary responsibility for the criminal justice agencies in Orange County, Florida, the Criminal Justice Institute is a regional training center that serves over 45 organizations which include state law enforcement agencies, Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, numerous county, municipal, regional and international criminal justice agencies (Valencia College, 2013b).
Ana G. Méndez University System (SUAGM)
In 1941, with $1,000, Doña Ana G. Méndez opened the Puerto Rico High School of Commerce to specifically target low income students searching for a commercial or technical career. In 1949, she founded the Puerto Rico Junior College with nineteen students, followed by the Universidad Metropolitana in1966 and the Universidad del Turabo in 1967. After a few years, the Puerto Rico Junior College changed its name to Colegio Universitario del Este, known today as Universidad del Este. Collectively, this became known as the larger Ana G. Mendez University System or SUAGM, serving over 44,000 students. The university system, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, encompasses 13 university centers in Puerto Rico, and four university centers on the U.S. mainland: Orlando, Tampa and South Florida, in Florida, and most recently in Wheaton, Maryland, offering the first and only bilingual program in the nation (Ana G. Méndez University System, 2013).
SUAGM has become the leading private higher education institution in Puerto Rico, offering innovative academic programs, establishing alliances with various sectors and implementing the most advanced technology available. Furthermore, SUAGM has become an active leader in addressing the needs of Puerto Rico, and is committed to a constant evolution of a new educational horizon, advanced technology, and an agile infrastructure. Environmental management, tourism, engineering, sciences, entrepreneurship, and the Institute for Security and Protection (ISEP) are recently developed academic programs to respond to the demands of Puerto Rico. ISEP offers an innovative, academic and tactical program to train local police, correctional officers and other agents of law and order as well as civilians who pursue a career in criminal justice and security.
Institute for Security and Protection (ISEP)
Through a collaborative criminal justice partnership and many visits to Valencia College since August 2010, SUAGM has developed and implemented ISEP for a new approach to academic preparation and training of all officers of law and order in Puerto Rico. ISEP is modeled after the training and education at the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College. ISEP offers contemporary academic and training opportunities to municipal police officers and other law enforcement professionals. The university’s 54 college credit Associate Degree in Penal Justice consists of a general education, professional, and tactical components. ISEP’s program includes training and education on many of the high profile topics that have negatively impacted the delivery of police services and safety in Puerto Rico: ethical values, civil rights and crisis situations, intervention with special populations, mediation and intervention, human and community relations, criminal law, criminal procedures and evidence, crime scene investigations, use and handling of non-lethal weapons, and principles of tactical operations (Ana G. Méndez University System, 2012).
Not only has SUAGM’s adoption of criminal justice training and education from Valencia College been successful, but the central Florida region is a “sister” region to Puerto Rico. This region is highlighted and illustrated in this transformative project. By comparison, central Florida’s geography and the location of Valencia College’s criminal justice training region, defined as Region VII (Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia Counties) by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the governing agency of all criminal justice standards and training in Florida, is very similar to the island of Puerto Rico. Moreover, nearly five million Puerto Ricans live in the United States. Close to 900,000 live in Florida, about one third lives and work in central Florida, and connections with central Florida are fundamental to Puerto Rico’s future (Hernandez, 2013). Table 1 illustrates the regional comparison.
Puerto Rico and Central Florida: Regional Comparison
Puerto Rico Region VII
Population 3.7 Million 3.1 Million
Osceola County: 45% Hispanic
Orange County: 27% Hispanic
Square Miles 3,515 5,934
Population Density 417 701
(Persons per sq. mile)
Police Organizations 79 70
(78 Municipal & PRPD) (64 Municipal & 6 County Sheriffs)
Other Similarities Warm tropical climate Warm tropical climate
Cargo and cruise ports Cargo and cruise ports (Brevard Co.)
World’s largest observatory U.S. Space Coast
(Arecibo) (Brevard Co.)
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
MANDATE FOR THE SUSTAINABLE REFORM OF THE PUERTO RICO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Although contemporary criminal justice training and education is in place in Puerto Rico by SUAGM, modeled after the central Florida region, most importantly, in July 2013, the U.S. Attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr., signed a law suit agreement with the Governor of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the PRPD: the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department No. 3:12-cv-2039 (GAG). This agreement, a result of the findings from the 2011 United States Department of Justice report, contains nearly 300 mandated actionable policy, training, and education items. Widespread police service changes must occur as mandated by the United States Department of Justice. The adoption of best practices and sustained, contemporary criminal justice training and education will lead to systemic and institutional changes in policing in Puerto Rico. In the spring of 2013, a “social architecture” was presented to SUAGM’s administrators, faculty, and politicians in Puerto Rico that involves three governance forces that are needed to create a new public safety paradigm in Puerto Rico: the Public Affairs Triumvirate of Administration, Organization, and Community (Goltz, 2013). The triumvirate and theories are the foundation of the Public Affairs Doctoral Program at the University of Central Florida where the author has taught incoming doctoral students.
The following sections discuss the triumvirate in brief, applicable theories, social engineering to include the strategic approach, initiatives, and the implementation of best practices, as well as the burgeoning partnership between Valencia College and SUAGM in each component of the triumvirate for the transformation and sustainable reform of the PRPD and the criminal justice system in Puerto Rico, a historic systemic change of law enforcement on this island.
SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE: THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS TRIUMVIRATE
The Administrative component of the triumvirate includes two key factors: 1) the development of criminal justice standards and training oversight, and 2) the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department No. 3:12-cv-2039 (GAG). The partnership and the study and implementation of best practices, from the central Florida region and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Valencia College, are essential as the requirements of the agreement are met, and oversight of Puerto Rico’s criminal justice system is created. A public administrative integrative and boundary-exchange process, coupled with a governance approach, provides the theoretical foundation for these two items.
Administrative Integrative, Boundary-Exchange Process, and Governance
Within the integrative process, administrators are seen as persons taking roles in the hierarchy and performing tasks that are integrated through the hierarchies to constitute a cohesive goal-seeking whole (Frederickson, 1971). The boundary-exchange process establishes general relationship between the publicly administered organizations and its reference groups and clients. These clients are the legislators, elected officials, auxiliary staff, clients, and organized interest groups which account for relationships between all levels of government (Frederickson, 1971). This integrative, boundary-exchange process is the foundation for a governance framework.
Reddel (2002) highlights the key methodologies relevant to the governance framework as innovation, negotiation and transformative partnerships, and the re-invention of government around terms such as system-wide information exchange, knowledge transfer, democratization and decentralization of decision-making, inter-institutional dialogue and the shift of the state towards relations of reciprocity and trust within governance institutions. The new form of governance is based around the interactions of the socio-political system involving the public, private, and civil sectors (Daly, 2003). Similarly, governance is the result of interactive socio-political management and it develops a common understanding of problems and solutions among different actors and organizations. It is essentially anti-hierarchical and anti-bureaucratic and dissolves the traditional boundaries between the public and private actors (Sehested, 2003). When applied empirically, Daly states that governance is most often used to refer to the changing nature of government and the public sector and how each articulates the distribution of power and control in society.
Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission in Puerto Rico
The United States Department of Justice’s report highlights that there is no external oversight of officer standards and training. In Puerto Rico, the top priority and primary administrative goal should be the development of a criminal justice standards and training commission for the standardization and oversight of criminal justice training and police officer conduct. Clearly, this is an issue that must be addressed at the highest levels of public administration and the legislative body in Puerto Rico, and requires a public administrative integrative and boundary-exchange process. These relationships and collaboration between government, education, and citizens at all levels, a governance framework, are vital in the establishment of a standards and training commission in Puerto Rico. Moreover, a best practice, the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission in Florida, can serve as a model for this component of transformation.
The purpose of a standards and training commission is to promote and facilitate the competency and professional conduct of criminal justice officers through a partnership with criminal justice agencies. A commission enhances entry-level and in-service officer training, and maintains disciplinary procedures. A commission, similar to one established under statute in the state of Florida that governs the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College, is an independent policy making body that ensures that citizens are served by a qualified, well trained, competent, and ethical law enforcement community. The 19 member commission in Florida is comprised of criminal justice and community leaders as set forth in statute. This commission is responsible for creating entry-level curriculum and certification testing for criminal justice officers in Florida, establishing minimum standards for employment and certification and revoking the certification of officers who fail to maintain these minimum standards of conduct (Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission). A similar commission in Puerto Rico would enhance criminal justice training and provide oversight for officer conduct and would significantly increase citizen confidence in police services.
In August and November of 2013, the Executive Director and Academic Director of the Institute for Security and Protection at SUAGM visited the week-long Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission meetings in Florida with the author for extensive evaluation of this best practice. The expertise, mentorship, and guidance shared by Valencia College and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement during these sessions, and in future sessions, will allow SUAGM to be a lead resource in the future development and implementation of a standards and training commission in Puerto Rico.
Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department
The Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department between the United States Department of Justice and the PRPD contains nearly 300 mandated actionable items that must be implemented over the next five years. The agreement is vast and the parties, the U.S. Department of Justice and PRPD, have worked together and identified measures to enhance each of the following areas: (1) Professionalization; (2) Use of Force; (3) Searches and Seizures; (4) Equal Protection and Non-Discrimination; (5) Recruitment, Selection, and Hiring; (6) Policies and Procedures; (7) Training; (8) Supervision and Management; (9) Civilian Complaints, Internal Investigations, and Discipline; (10) Community Engagement and Public Information; and (11) Information Systems and Technology (U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, 2013).
The author, as directed by SUAGM’s president, has developed a five-year strategy that includes education, training, and policy or procedure development by ISEP that can successfully assist with the implementation of nearly 200 of the actionable items in the agreement. The strategy also outlines the specific training courses and the proposed costs to deliver eleven required training items in the agreement. The author identifies and suggests several Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission courses and ISEP training courses for the execution of the agreement. Moreover, the strategy promotes the evolution of this project, or the “social engineering” phase, established through the partnership discussed throughout this article. Most important, the author stresses that all PRPD policy related to the required training items in the agreement must first be revised using the model policy form the central Florida region before the required training commences, a three step transformation process: 1) policy revisions, 2) training courses implemented with revised policy, and 3) improved policing with new procedures that lead to a change in officer actions and behaviors for sustainable reform.
In summary, the administrative component to develop a criminal justice standards and training commission in Puerto Rico, as well as the successful execution of the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department requires a public administrative integrative and boundary-exchange process, and the governance framework discussed in this section.
The Organization component of the triumvirate includes two key factors: 1) the implementation of contemporary criminal justice training and education, and 2) reframing police organizations in Puerto Rico. SUAGM’s strong partnership with the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College has lead to ISEP’s criminal justice degree program which is now reframing police organizations throughout Puerto Rico. Rational systems, open systems, institutional theory and isomorphism provide the theoretical foundation for the organization component of the transformation. Undoubtedly, it is this component of triumvirate where the academic institutions highlighted in this article, and their partnership contribute the most to the transformation of the criminal justice system in Puerto Rico.
Policing Systems and Institutional Theory
Rational systems and open systems define police organizations. The rational systems approach suggests that organizations are collectivities oriented to the pursuit of relatively specific goals and exhibiting relatively highly formalized social structure. Open systems suggest that organization are not closed systems that are sealed off from their environment and are open to, and dependent on, flows of personnel, resources, and information from the outside. The environment, or community, shapes, supports, and infiltrates organizations (Scott & Davis, 2007). Police departments, which operate in open systems, confront ever-shifting and changing environments, and the role of the organizational administrators is to adjust the organization to the environmental change (Fyfe, Greene, Walsh, Wilson & McLaren, 1997). Environmental uncertainty is closely linked to the organizational design and administration of police departments, and the approach used to meet environmental challenges is contingency management. Contingency management states that an organization is shaped by its environment, and is appropriate when an organization’s tasks are unpredictable (Donaldson, 1995).
Understanding the open systems approach and contingency theory is paramount for police leadership training and education in Puerto Rico due to ineffective policing as emphasized in the United States Department of Justice report and the diminished public support of the PRPD. Moreover, several items in the agreement require “mandatory management, supervisory, leadership, and command accountability training, tailored to each level of supervision and command” (U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, 2013, pg. 51). Three courses tailored to resolve this training deficiency, and meet the requirements outlined by the United States Department of Justice, have been identified through the Valencia College and SUAGM partnership.
While systems theory defines police organizations, institutional theory assumes that organizations are deeply embedded in a particular social context. Furthermore, organizational structural arrangements are significantly influenced by distinctive cultural and political elements and these foundations have a lasting legacy (Meyer & Rowan, 1977; Meyer & Scott, 1983). There are varying levels of analysis when applying institutional theory (Scott, 2001). The levels, from a macro to micro level, differ greatly in terms of the phenomena under study. In the interest of studying police organizations, three of the levels are widely recognizable: organizational field, organizational population, and organization. Figure 1 illustrates the order of organizational levels of the police environment.
Police Industry (Macro Level)
Police Departments in a Geographic Region
Individual Police Departments (Micro Level)
FIGURE 1: Organizational Levels of the Police Environment
Organizational fields constitute a recognized area of institutional life, organizational populations are a collection of organizations that are relatively homogenous in terms of environmental vulnerability, and an organization is the individual collection of actors and resources. These concepts build in the conventional concept of industry: a population of organizations that operate in the same domain as indicated by similar service delivery (Scott, 2001). Although police organizations operate and perform independently, Figure 1 indicates that there are multi-level institutional influences on these organizations. Institutions are multifaceted, durable social structures that are made up of symbolic elements, social activities, and material resources. They are social structures that involve strongly held rules supported by more entrenched resources (Scott, 2001). Although Puerto Rico’s national police force, the PRPD, and the 78 local municipal police departments operate and perform independently, these are varying organizational levels of analysis when applying institutional theory of the police environment as illustrated in Figure 1.
Additionally, government organizations are more vulnerable to institutional forces than other organizations and new institutionalism in organizational analysis has shifted from why organizations are so heterogeneous to the explanation of why organizations are so similar (Frumkin & Galaskiewicz, 2004). Organizations are structured by phenomena in their environments and tend to become isomorphic with them. Once organizational leaders mimic their peers and perceptions about their activities are accepted by the public, an organization becomes institutionalized. Institutional isomorphism promotes the success and survival of organizations (Meyer & Rowan, 1983).
Three isomorphic forces drive institutionalism: coercive isomorphism, mimetic isomorphism, and normative isomorphism. Coercive isomorphism is linked to the environment surrounding the organizational field. Organizations adopt structures that are either overtly or covertly mandated by organizations that they are dependent upon, and it stems from the political influence and the need for legitimacy. Mimetic isomorphism results from standard responses to uncertainty. Organizational leaders operate in a state of uncertainty and mimic their peers because they do not know what else to do. Normative isomorphism is associated with professionalism and results from the dissemination of ideas through social networks (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Mizruchi & Fein, 1999). When organizations are subjected to outside coercive scrutiny, evaluation, and regulation, they react defensively and gravitate towards isomorphism transformation, and the three isomorphic mechanisms can overlap and intermingle (Frumkin & Galaskiewicz, 2004).
Meyer and Rowan (1983) believe that isomorphism has some crucial consequences for organizations because they incorporate elements that are legitimated externally, rather than in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, Mastrofski (1998) emphasizes that the most noticeable environmental feature of many organizations is not the demand to be efficient but rather the demand to respond to widely held beliefs about what an organization should be and do. Police organizations institutionalize structures and processes that have come to be accepted as right, true, and correct, even though they have not been validated in a technical sense.
Contemporary Criminal Justice Training and Education
Currently, Valencia College and SUAGM are implementing contemporary criminal justice training and education in Puerto Rico through a formal training agreement and institutional isomorphism is the key factor in transforming not only the PRPD, but the 78 municipal police departments as well. SUAGM’s strategy to first enroll numerous municipal police officers into their 54 college credit Associate Degree in Penal Justice in the spring of 2012, has created a new evolution of normative and mimetic isomorphism activity, contemporary training and education of police officers, that will affect all organizational levels of the police environment throughout the island. According to ISEP’s Academic Director, as of January 2014, 319 students have graduated from ISEP’s Associate Degree Program and 353 are currently enrolled. Of these graduates, 180 are municipal police officers from twelve cities in Puerto Rico: Bayamon, Caguas, Cidra, Gurabo, Jayuya, Juncos, Las Piedras, Mayagüez, Moca, Ponce, San Lorenzo, and Yabucoa.
Reframing Police Organizations in Puerto Rico
As a new paradigm, or a new culture of policing in Puerto Rico evolves through the Valencia College and SUAGM partnership and police officers continue to enroll and graduate in SUAGM’s Associate Degree in Penal Justice Program, significant organizational change or “reframing” will occur. Bolman and Deal (2008) identify a four-frame model of organizations: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. The structural frame focuses on the architecture of organization: the design of units and subunits, rules and roles, goals and policies. The human resource frame emphasizes the understanding of people or human capital, their strengths and weaknesses, reason and emotion, and desires and fears. The political frame sees organizations as competitive arenas of scarce resources, competing interests, and struggles for power and advantage. Lastly, the symbolic frame focuses on issues of meaning and faith (rituals, ceremony, story, play, culture).
Frames are referred as windows, maps, tools, lenses, filters, prisms, and perspectives. A frame is a set of ideas and assumptions that is used as a script to guide actions by the organization. When an organization becomes pervasive and dominant, it can change its script, change how it appears, what it does, and how it is seen by its audience (Bolman & Deal, 2008). This organizational change is known as reframing, and institutional theory and isomorphism contribute to systemic reframing throughout the micro level of the organizational levels of the police environment.
Community is emerging and replacing society as a critical location for political and policy-making activity, and it is the new focus for the administration of governance (Daly, 2003; Reddel, 2002). Community science focuses on person-centered approaches, the study of people in the aggregate (mass), knowledge building, informal social networks, and legitimizes the expertise of the community (Agiro, 2010). Most definitions of community include area, common ties, and social interaction (Lyon, 1999). Within communities there is conflict. According to Coleman’s model of community conflict, conflict typically stems from three local sources: economic issues, political disputes, value conflicts (Lyon, 1999, pg. 68). Conflict sociology views society as comprising different groups and interests competing for power and resources (macro sociology). Society functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits, which inevitably contributes to social change such as changes in politics and revolutions (Lyon, 1999; Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2002).
The stated literature discusses alarming conflict between the PRPD and its community. As stated earlier, public safety depends on the trust and cooperation of the community (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011) and the reports published by the United States President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status and the United States Department of Justice discuss system changes for the PRPD. A community is a system linked to both micro-systems such as individuals, families, and institutions and to macro-systems, the larger national society. Systems theory has provided three significant contributions to our understanding of the community: the interaction field, macro-system dominance, and horizontal and vertical patterns (Lyon, 1999). Moreover, Lyon indicates that the most important issues in community sociology are community power, interpersonal relationships, and community development.
Community policing provides the practical foundation for the community component of the transformation. This model of policing has been very successful in the United States over the past two decades because it builds community trust and legitimacy for police organizations. Moreover, it is a mandated training item in the agreement and training courses have been established in the partnership to meet this requirement by the U.S. Department of Justice. Eck and Rosenbaum (1994) emphasize that community policing has become the new orthodoxy for the police and has been an integral part of policing in the United States since the early to mid 1990’s. The label of community policing is used in many ways that creates an expectation it will provide a panacea for not only crime, disorder, and racial tension but many other problems that plague urban areas (Goldstein, 1994). Community policing, by definition is a shift from the traditional functions of random patrol, rapid response to calls, and retrospective criminal investigations of policing. Moreover, the instrumental and technical approach of traditional policing resulted in distorted communications and a lack of understanding. Traditional policing served to distance the police from many socially disadvantaged neighborhoods and groups (Schneider, 1999). Cheurprakobkit (as cited in Trojanowicz & Buequeroux, 1990) defines community policing as a philosophy which emphasizes the working partnership between officers and citizens in creative ways in order to solve community problems relating to crime, fear of crime, and neighborhood disorders.
Community policing has been one of the most isomorphic forces that have reshaped many organizations in the policing industry over the last two decades in the United States. Although it can be argued that community policing meets all of the forces that drive institutionalism (coercive, mimetic, and normative isomorphism), its influence has lead to widespread institutional change in American policing. This paradigm of police management has dominated the professional literature, and is based on the recognition that successful law enforcement is extensive co-production between responsible police organizations and their civilian population. Community policing has captured the imagination of police officials, community activists, and academics (Greene, 1998). Research on community policing recognizes that successful implementation of this approach requires a significant shift away from the traditional culture of police organizations. Evidence has indicated that operating in the networked environment allows managers to leverage resources, and active management in the external network seems to reduce the tendency of programs to be constrained by past performance (Nicholson-Crotty & O’Toole, 2004).
A community policing model in Puerto Rico will create “structural functionalism.” Structural functionalism has two components: structure and function. Structure primarily refers to normative patterns of behavior (regularized patterns of action in accordance with norms) and function explains how such patterns operate as systems. Society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole or macro sociology (Lyon, 1999; Mooney et al, 2002). Harmony and a state of balance between the PRPD and its community are paramount to create a new paradigm of policing and to reduce the crime rate in Puerto Rico.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the PRPD has systemic deficiencies and mandated changes must occur over the next five years. Furthermore, Puerto Rico is experiencing record violent crime rates and these issues will require a comprehensive approach for the transformation and sustainable reform of public safety on the island. A training and academic transformational approach has been established through a partnership between Valencia College and SUAGM to assist the PRPD, the government in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the citizens of this commonwealth with the reform. Three primary components have been presented in this article as the social architecture to establish a foundation for transformation: administration, organization, and community. Relative theories support and establish needed practices in each component, and the college partnership has three major implications:
Establishment of relationships and collaboration between government and educators, a governance framework, for the development of a criminal justice standards and training commission to promote and facilitate the competency and professional conduct of criminal justice officers in Puerto Rico.
A comprehensive strategy has been developed to implement the mandated training and education requirements in the Agreement for the Sustainable Reform of the Puerto Rico Police Department. This strategy is the research of best criminal justice training and education practices from the central Florida region between Valencia College and SUAGM, and will result in institutional reform throughout all organizational levels of the police environment in Puerto Rico.
Diffuse conflict between the PRPD and its community, and to increase citizen approval ratings of the PRPD by implementing community oriented policing throughout Puerto Rico through training and educated as mandated in the agreement.
In conclusion, these implications could significantly change the institutional environment of policing across the entire island while reframing the PRPD and municipal police organizations, thus leading to historic change of law enforcement in Puerto Rico.
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Address correspondence to Valencia College, Criminal Justice Institute, 8600 Valencia College Lane, Orlando, Florida, 32825, USA. E-Mail: email@example.com Phone: 407-582-8265
Jeffrey W. Goltz retired as a Captain from the Orlando Police Department, Florida, in June 2008 after twenty years of service. During his last four years in law enforcement he served on the police chief’s executive staff where he was a commander in the Professional Standards Division. Currently, he is the Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Valencia College in Orlando. He received his doctoral degree in Public Affairs from the University of Central Florida in 2006 and his research interests include the study of police organizational performance and other areas of public safety management and administration.