The Neighborhood Security Council of Las Croabas allows for community policing in the neighborhood of Las Croabas, Fajardo, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria through volunteer Council members who directly inform police officials and the mayor of community problems.
Problems and Purpose
The problems to be addressed by the Neighborhood Security Council are those of safety and security in the barrio, Las Croabas, in Puerto Rico. The purpose, as stated by the Office of the Superintendent of Police, is to involve citizens in the policing process. The goal is to implement community policing. The Neighborhood Security Council is a group of citizens who meet to discuss these issues, and form recommendations on how to solve them. These recommendations are taken directly to police officials and the mayor of the town, Fajardo.
Background History and Context
The authorization of Neighborhood Security Councils in Puerto Rico was codified into law in 1986, and has gone through several rounds of reform. Communities elect to form these Councils based on interest. The Las Croabas Council formed in the wake of Hurricane Maria, as increased crime rates were exacerbated by a worsening police force shortage. This Neighborhood Security Council was formed in accordance with the Orden General Núm. 87-11, Organización y Funcionamiento de los Consejos de Seguridad Vecinal. The official swearing in for the Council occurred on June 6, 2018. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Police, the purpose of the Council is to allow citizens to assist in the implementation of community policing. The Puerto Rico Police Department has explicitly stated that a major goal of reform is to involve citizens in the policing process.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Council was formed by citizen volunteers. The process also involved local and state police officials, as well as the mayoral office.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participation in the Council is completely voluntary. In order to be a Council member, citizens must pass a background check and attend a formal swearing in. The Council has a total of six members.
Methods and Tools Used
The Council is best described as a form of a citizen advisory board, as the Council serves as an intermediary between the community members and the police force. The Council’s primary method of deliberation is through formal, structured meetings. The president of the Council then takes the issues discussed in Council meetings to city officials, namely the mayor and police representatives. There is also a social media account in existence for the Council to interact with community members who are not directly involved with the Council.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Deliberation and decisions are made during Council meetings. One way that the Council interacts with the public is through the social media account.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Council has been in existence for less than six months, and therefore the policy outcomes are not yet known.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The Neighborhood Security Council works to ease the effects of the shortage of police officers since Hurricane Maria hit the community. This shows the community’s dedication to making their community safe, especially as police face new challenges in the wake of a devastating natural disaster.
 Consejos comunitarios de seguridad en Puerto Rico [web log comment]. (2009, August). La Gaceta Policial. Retrieved from http://lagacetapolicial.blogspot.com/2009/08/consejos-comunitarios-de-seguridad-en.html
 Oficina del Superintendente. (2017). Action plans to comply with the sustainable reform of the Puerto Rico police department. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from: https://policia.pr.gov/planes-de-accion/
 Oficina del Superintendente. (2015). Reglamento para reorganizer los consejos comunitarios de seguridad de la policia de Puerto Rico. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from: https://policia.pr.gov/reglamento-para-reorganizar-los-consejos-comunitarios-de-seguridad-de-la-policia-de-puerto-rico/
Consejo Comunitario de Seguridad de Las Croabas. (n.d.). In Facebook [Group Page]. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1223388291117047/
This case study was written by Rachel Villafane, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in this case study are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.