Ex-FBI chief Pesquera to head Police Department
The designation came in the wake of the resignation of Police Superintendent Emilio Díaz Colón after less than a year at the helm of the 17,000 member force.
The governor noted that Pesquera was born and raised in Puerto Rico and began his professional career as an FBI official here, before becoming the first Puerto Rican to direct the local FBI office as special agent in charge.
“Héctor Pesquera has the knowledge, experience, leadership commitment and proven track record of results to direct successfully the Police Department,” the governor said. “I don’t have the any doubt that together we will achieve implanting our Public Security Plan to return peace to our communities.”
Pesquera said he accepted the challenge with an “enormous feeling of commitment.”
“I share the vision of the governor that it is not sufficient to fight crime,” Pesquera said. “We have to go to the root of the problem through strengthening our prevention and early-detection initiatives. And for this we need the support of the community.”
Fortuño said with the change in leadership at the Police Department, the administration was intensifying efforts in each area of the public security plan to achieve results the public are expecting.
“If we are going to have success at reducing crime, we have to continue to go after and prosecute criminals, but for this we need to strengthen the collaboration between the police and our communities,” the governor said.
Pesquera began his storied law enforcement career at the FBI in San Juan but he also served with the agency in Tampa and Washington, D.C. as well as in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he oversaw the region of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
He became special agent in charge of the FBI office in Puerto Rico in 1995, and in 1998 became chief of the FBI Miami office. He retired from the FBI in December 2003. Since then, he has worked as Homeland Security Coordinator of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and since May 2008 has served as Miami Port assistant director in charge of security.
The appointment was hailed by several law enforcement officials, including former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
“His more than 30 years experience in the FBI make him one of the most experienced professionals in the area of public security,” Freeh said. “Héctor Pesquera is an example of integrity and hard work. He has always had the support of the FBI and his reputation as a career professional is unquestionable.”
“Pesquera’s excellent performance as a public safety official had led him to direct operations in different parts of the world,” Fortuño said. “Today he returns to Puerto Rico to help us continue our mission to return peace to our communities.”
Díaz Colón resigned his post Wednesday amid criticism that he didn’t do enough to combat violence.
Fortuño said in a statement that Díaz resigned because he didn’t want his continued leadership to hurt reforms being undertaken inside the nation’s second-largest police force.
Díaz was appointed in early July following the abrupt resignation of former chief José Figueroa Sancha. From the start Díaz was criticized for saying that he had no plans to change how the department operated. He never presented a plan to fight crime despite numerous requests from legislators.
Díaz also had been repeatedly criticized for his absence during significant police raids and his unavailability to talk to the media.
In September, the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report demanding that Puerto Rico’s police officials improve their department, accusing it of numerous crimes and civil rights violations.