Puerto Rico’s government on Wednesday announced the closure of a fifth police station in a week amid growing concerns about officers’ exposure to the coronavirus.
The closures come as police officers accuse the territory’s central government of not doing enough to protect them from the virus, The Associated Press reported.
More than 150 members of the 11,000-strong police force are under quarantine, according to the AP.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced (R) has decreed one of the strictest curfews on American soil, imposing restrictions on daily schedules for a variety of businesses, automobile transit, and when and under what circumstances citizens can leave their homes.
The AP reported that Puerto Rico Police Commissioner Henry Escalera said there’s a shortage of protective gear, though he hopes to soon deliver 30 face masks to each officer.
Puerto Rico’s police force has operated under restricted budgets for years, with many officers using their personal cellphones as official communication devices and patrol cars being cannibalized for parts.
As the most populous U.S. territory by far, Puerto Rico is due to receive the lion’s share of the more than $3 billion appropriated by Congress as coronavirus relief for territories.
But it will receive less funds per capita than similarly sized states, which will receive federal assistance out of a much bigger fund, per the third coronavirus relief package, approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last week.
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