Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Puerto Rican Exodus?

Update: After reader Roberto mentioned the comments section of the story I went and read some of the comments. It was sad to see that although there were many supporting the men in blue in their decision to leave, there were just as many criticizing their search for a better future and even worse - hoping, wishing them failure. How sad.

An article in El Nuevo Dia today (in Spanish) tells the story of the recruitment effort of the Baltimore City police in Puerto Rico. Yup, you read right. The Baltimore City police has around 200 openings and they are in Puerto Rico administering tests and interviewing current Puerto Rico Police members.

A policeman in Puerto Rico is grossly underpaid so needless to say, Baltimore Police recruiters were taken aback by the 450 applicants that showed up on the FIRST day. 450 current police officers willing to "brincar el charco" - literally jump water - and move to Baltimore. Why? Because of money - the US pays their policemen a respectable salary something non-existent within Puerto Rico. Add to that the recent fiscal crisis, and you have to wonder why aren't there more people leaving. As one officer aptly put it:

"They credit my 10 years of experience and offer me a salary of $54,000. I can retire in 10 more years when I turn 40."

However, I do have to ask myself if these 450 willing souls have ever watched an episode of The Wire or Homicide for that matter - if they have a clue as to what they are facing in Baltimore, in particular (if memory doesn't fail me) the East side. Maryland is not one of the most dangerous states for free - its DC suburbs as well as Baltimore are both high in violent crimes. Not that PR doesn't have its share of violent crimes, but having lived in both I can attest that Baltimore is a whole new ballgame for these men in blue.

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