Police Commissioner Vila del Castillo tells what the government is working on; Audit reveals lack of internal controls at the Police

José Vila del Castillo / Presidency

In a press conference called on Friday, the new National Police Executive Commissioner, Jose (Pepe) Vila del Castillo explained what the Abinader administration is working on as it accelerates police reform. Local media criticized that the director-general of the Police, Mayor General Eduardo Alberto Then was not present and that they were not allowed to ask questions, just listen to the presentation by Vila. Major General Then had been named in May 2021 after reports of unexplained police excess resulted in the murder of two evangelical pastors.

The hard-line of the police against crime continues to result in excesses and now highly publicized killings of innocent people. The human rights violations are not new. What is new is social media has fired a national outrage while people are stepping up the pressure in the hope that something may be done to change the police culture that for years has tolerated murders by the force in the name of combatting crime.

The 14 measures were announced in the press conference with the presence of Minister of Interior and Police Jesus (Chu) Vasquez. As stated above, executive director of the Police, Eduardo Alberto Then was not present. Several of these measures had already been announced by the Abinader administration when addressing police reform at the start of his government.

Nuria Piera for her investigative journalism program on Channel 9 on Saturday, 7 May 2022 observed that on the list are many measures that had been announced in the past by this and past governments. Vila said that the difference now is that there is the political will of President Abinader for change in the Police. He also said more responsibility will be placed on the Ministry of Interior and Police to control the Police. Measure #7 places the department of Internal Affairs of the National Police under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Interior and Police, in order to guarantee the prompt and rigorous investigation of cases.

In the interview, Vila had nothing to say about the recent murdered David de los Santos not being allowed to make a call to his relatives to say he was kept at the jail. Vila also had no comment when asked about major private business activities of Police persons. There have been many reports on profiteering by persons high up in the Police.

Meanwhile, in an unusual motion, the Public Ministry acted and presented the file with accusations against the Police in charge of the Naco police station. The Police initially attributed the death to self-inflicted wounds. What is normal is for the Police to deny any charges of relatives and let the case, if it makes the media, fall into oblivion. This time, prosecutor investigation reveals that others that were detained at the time inflicted the head blows and other injuries to the hand-cuffed David de los Santos in the cell. The 24-year old evangelic pastor, call center employee and physical education teacher, had been arrested for making remarks to a store employee that the store staff interpreted as life-threatening and called the security of the mall. The family would later explain that De los Santos took mental health condition meds.

De los Santos would be handcuffed and taken to the Naco police station from where he was taken in moribund state to the Moscoso Puello Public Hospital. He was never allowed to call his relatives. When the family tracked him down, he had already been taken to the public hospital. He would later be transferred to the Darío Contreras Trauma Hospital where he died. The Police inspector general has admitted to negligence of the force.

A Haitian construction worker who had been held for robbery in the same cell provided the testimony that helped prosecutors put together what happened inside the Naco cell that resulted in the death of De los Santos, as reported in Listin Diario.

Meanwhile, a recent Chamber of Accounts audit of the National Police reveals lack of transparency and efficiency in the management of Police resources, and major violations of internal controls established for public entities under Law 10-07. The audit findings reveal a widespread lack of internal control mechanisms. In reporting on the audit, Diario Libre says the Police has a Code of Ethics, but this is not socialized with their ranks, nor is guidance provided on the consequences of non-compliance or non-observance of this code. In reality, the consequences have been very few, giving way for the practice to continue and the abuses to continue.

N Digital carries a compilation of cases of murder of persons at the hands of police agents during this administration, evidence of the lack of cracking down on known criminal practices within the ranks and file of the Police.

In its recommendations, the Chamber of Accounts audit establishes: “It is imperative that the highest authority and the higher echelons of the institution direct their eyes and actions to the entire internal control system to address and outline a plan for the design, implementation and monitoring of the results obtained.

The indictment in the David de los Santos murder case is scheduled for 13 May 2022 in a National
District court. Three civilians and four policemen are accused in the David de los Santos murder case. These are: police captain Domingo Alberto Rodríguez Rodríguez; second lieutenant Germán García de la Cruz; corporal Alfonso Decena Hernández and private San Manuel González García (or Sari Manuel González García). The civilians were named as Santiago Mateo Victoriano, Michael Pérez Ramos and Jean Carlos Martínez Peña who shared the same cell at the time.

The National Police says the Inspector General’s Office recommended to the Superior Police Council the forced retirement and dismissal of a captain, a second lieutenant, a corporal and two privates, for serious misconduct while on duty and guardianship of David de los Santos Correa, in the Naco detachment of the capital city. The internal investigation recommended the dismissal from the Police of Captain Domingo Alberto Rodríguez and Second Lieutenant Germán García de la Cruz, Corporal Alfonso Decena Hernández and privates Sari Manuel González García and Stanley Brito Martínez. These are scheduled to appear for their indictment in the David de los Santos murder trial on 13 May 2022 at a National District court.

The Chamber of Deputies has requested that Police director general Eduardo Alberto Then give explanations to the floor on Monday, 9 May 2022.

Read more in Spanish:
Diario Libre
Nuria Investigación
N Digital
Orbita Informativa RD
Diario Libre
Listin Diario
N Digital
Diario Libre
Diario Libre
El Caribe

9 May 2022