A former director of the FBI office based in Puerto Rico was nominated Thursday to lead the island's troubled police department, which U.S. justice officials have accused of corruption, illegal killings and civil rights violations.
The nomination of Hector Pesquera comes just hours after police chief Emilio Diaz Colon resigned.
Pesquera would take on a 17,000-member police department that has struggled to contain a rise in violent crime while trying to adopt dozens of reforms demanded by the U.S. Justice Department in a scathing report released late last year.
"Hector Pesquera has the knowledge, the experience, the leadership, the commitment and a proven track record to successfully lead our police department," said Gov. Luis Fortuno, who is seeking a second term in this year's upcoming general elections in which crime has been a dominant issue.
The Senate, which is controlled by Fortuno's pro-statehood party, is expected to soon approve Pesquera's nomination.
The nominee, 65, said in a brief statement that he would develop new preventive measures to help fight crime.
In December 1995, Pesquera was the first Puerto Rican appointed to lead the local FBI office. He had been with the agency for 27 years before retiring in December 2003. He most recently served as assistant director for Miami's Port Authority.
Diaz led the department for nearly nine months and was heavily criticized for never presenting a plan to fight crime.
Fortuno said late Wednesday that Diaz resigned because he didn't want to affect reforms being undertaken.
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