ST. PAUL, Minn.- The St. Paul Police Department stated in a recent tweet that their officers will no longer be deployed to Puerto Rico in order to help in Hurricane Maria relief.
On September 30, ten Spanish speaking St. Paul police officers were set to fly to Puerto Rico in order to help in the aid effort. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicated that they were looking to significantly reduce the amount of officers in Puerto Rico, from the 1,500 officers originally planned to the only 150. It was also made clear that the Puerto Rican government were looking for officers who could bring along patrol vehicles. As the police officers from St. Paul were looking to be deployed in Puerto Rico for two weeks, it would seem they did not meet the standards of long term.
This is not the first time law enforcement from the Twin Cities were called out of the state to provide assistance. Last fall Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek sent Deputies to help handle security during the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This action lead to sit-in protest in front of Stanek’s office, with even an elected official, Councilwoman Alondra Cano, playing an active role in facilitating the protest. The reaction stands in stark contrast given the St. Paul police by St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman to the police being sent to Puerto Rico.
“It is time to rally around our fellow Americans in their time of need, and we are committed to helping in any way we can,” Coleman told the Pioneer Press.
Many Minnesotan officials have been critical of the federal response to Puerto Rico. U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison are among those who have signed a letter calling for a more efficient process of getting aid to Puerto Rico.
“The situation is dire for many of our fellow Americans,” Tim Walz said to the Star Tribune.
A brigade from the Minnesota National Guard is already in Puerto Rico helping with the relief effort. Minnesota volunteers working with Red Cross are also on hand in order to lend support in the distribution of aid. Organizations within Minnesota with connections to Puerto Rico that have been sending aid include Boricua Coalition Minnesota, which has raised $55,000 and multitudes of relief aid to be sent to the devastated island.