A team of local and state police officers are heading from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico to help with security duties as the U.S. territory is still reeling from two devastating hurricanes, Gov. Charlie Baker announced.
Sixty-nine officers from across the state will be split into three separate two-week rotations to help Puerto Rico officials enforce curfew and other security measures.
The request for assistance came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the national emergency management system that coordinates state-to-state assistance after disasters.
“We are proud that a team of law enforcement officers will deploy to Puerto Rico to help keep residents safe after the recent catastrophic hurricanes,” Baker said in a statement. “The commonwealth continues to offer personnel and equipment resources as needed to Puerto Rico, and is preparing to welcome disaster survivors traveling to Massachusetts. We will keep collaborating at all levels of government to support Puerto Rico throughout this difficult time.”
Those heading to Puerto Rico include 17 members of the State Police, 24 Boston police, and officers from Chelsea, Easthampton, Hampden Everett, Holyoke, Littleton, Lowell, Peabody, Provincetown and Waltham police departments.
"We asked for volunteers, preferably troopers who have some fluency in Spanish, and are very proud of those who stepped forward to help," said State Police spokesman David Procopio. "They will assist local police and first responders with policing and emergency response duties."
This is not the first time Massachusetts State Police has done this, Procopio noted, having sent troopers to New Jersey to assist during Hurricane Sandy.
Along with those officers, Massachusetts is sending 13 State Police cruisers for the entire six weeks officers will be on the ground. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will arrange for the military to fly the cruisers to Puerto Rico and return them to Massachusetts following the mission.
The deployment dates for both officers and the cruisers are being organized by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and have not yet been announced.
Baker also announced, with Mayor Marty Walsh, Representative Jeffrey Sanchez and members of the Boston Foundation, the creation of the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund to support the Island as it recovers from the Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The funds will go toward reconstruction and relief efforts on Puerto Rico as well as to support those fleeing the island and arriving in Massachusetts for temporary or permanent residence.