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Latino Politics in the U.S.

Latino Politics in the U.S.
Kendall-Hunt, 2012 (2005)
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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Hiring of Robert Warshaw: Damage Control?

Government Prepares for Possible Federal Intervention: Hires Expert for Damage Control


The secretive hiring of Robert Warshaw by the government of Puerto Rico may indicate an effort to mitigate the political damage a possible intervention of the U.S. Department of Justice may have on the colonial goverment of Puerto Rico as a result of the complaints filed by the Puerto Rico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Mr. Warshaw, a former Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who also serves as an auditor for the United States Department of Justice where he reviews whether organizations like police departments are in compliance with procedural revisions directed or overseen by a Federal court. In cases where complaints of violation of civil rights have resulted in a Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) like a consent decree, Warshaw has served as a monitor for to oversee if there is compliance with the court order. Presently, he serves as head of the Independent Monitoring Team which is overseeing the city of Oakland, California’s NSA. This 5-year-old NSA is the outcome of a series of police abuse in what is called the Riders’ Scandal. The incident involved police officers committing false arrests at the same time a similar scandal occurred in the Ramparts Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. It appears thta Mr. Warshaw strict interpretation of the NSA may lead the Oakland Police Department into receivership for its failure to restrain its police in the use of force.

He also served in the same capacity with another NSA process with the City of Detroit. In this consent decree the Detroit Police Department was expected to develop a use of force policy and an elimination of the use of the choke hold and similar carotid holds unless deadly force is authorized. Given the use of this very dangerous police tactic in the arrests of peacefully protesting students, this might be one of the areas which might be at the center of a Department of Justice intervention. It will be interesting to see what will the reaction of the courts be with respect with recent the sexual assaults that have been committed by some police officers against women protesters. The Bar Association Women's Commission has demanded that police officers be investigated for lascivious attacks. The You Tube portrayal of a young woman being inapropriately touched by a police office has received wide attention.

In recent years, for example, the New Jersey State police had to sign a consent decree because of instances of sexual assault by its officers including the rape of a college student by police officers.

In a consent decree, the accused party does not need to admit wrong doing but it commits to reforms that will address the violations of citizens rights. This is a way of avoiding a lawsuit which could bring heavy financial costs to the organization. Warshaw, because of his expertise can tell the Puerto Rican Police Department what measure it should take to avoid a lawsuit. It is possible that if the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice proceeds, the Government of Puerto Rico would have an ally helping them engage in damage control and the political fallout from a department of justice intervention.

Recently, the Superintendent of the Puerto Rican police ordered the police not to use the choke hold. Interestingly, this deadly force tactic has been the center of many interventions by the Department of Justice in cities across the United States.

In the meantime, Gov. Fortuño denies there are any potential investigacion in progress of the goverment of Puerto Rico.

(from various sources, Oakland Informant, Primera Hora and the internet 1/31/2011)

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