SAN JUAN – Dozens of Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) officers staged a protest on Monday in front of the Financial Oversight and Management Board offices in San Juan to demand decent pensions and the payment of overtime hours.
“We can’t take anymore. Officers can’t take anymore,” Sgt. Gregorio Matías, a police union representative, told reporters.
PRPD union leaders met with the head of the federal board, Natalie Jaresko, and Arnaldo Claudio, who was appointed to monitor the law enforcement agency, presenting their demands to the two officials.
The biggest complaint among officers is about Law 447, which significantly reduced retirement benefits.
Jaresko told union representatives that it was up to Puerto Rico’s government to introduce legislation or identify funds to cover police pensions, Matias said.
“We are going to demand that the government come up with a bill that’s acceptable to the board. If it doesn’t get done, we’re going to end up with pensions of $700 a month,” Matias said.
Puerto Rico’s public employee pension liability currently stands at $50 billion, United Organized Police Front president Diego Figueroa said after the meeting.
Officers with the 12,000-strong PRPD are also demanding payment of overtime hours worked after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.
Many PRPD officers found themselves working shifts of up to 16 hours after the storm made landfall on Sept. 20, knocking out electric service and leaving most of Puerto Rico’s roads impassable.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided the Puerto Rican government with $5 million to defray the cost of police overtime related to the hurricane.