HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Ten western Massachusetts police officers are scheduled to deploy to Puerto Rico to help law enforcement there with Hurricane Maria recovery.
Governor Charlie Baker announced that eight officers from Holyoke, one from Hampden and another from Easthampton will be deploying to the island, as it struggles to recover from the powerful category five storm.
Easthampton Police Chief Alberti posted on the department’s official Facebook page Wednesday night, wishing Officer Luis Rivera safe travels on his deployment.
“Officer Rivera will bring Puerto Rico the same commitment, dedication and service that he has provided to Easthampton for many years,” the chief wrote. “We couldn’t be prouder!!”
Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger had similar sentiments.
“We have deep roots to Puerto Rico, and anything the Holyoke Police Department can do to help out the citizens of Holyoke, and for that matter those in Puerto Rico, we’re happy to do,” Neiswanger said. “My officers are looking forward to going down and and making a difference down in Puerto Rico.”
In all, 69 Massachusetts police officers are headed to Puerto Rico. They are fulfilling a request for assistance that the U.S. territory made through the Emergency Management Assistant Compact, which allows states to coordinate disaster aid.
The deployed officers are going to be on two week rotations, and will be helping Puerto Rican law enforcement maintain curfews and the overall safety of the island.
FEMA is arranging for the U.S. military to fly 13 police cruisers to Puerto Rico.
Guadalupe Martinez, who is originally from Puerto Rico, supports the deployment, but isn’t sure efforts like this will help things get back to normal.
“It’s good, that’s good, but it’s destroyed. Puerto Rico is destroyed, and they need food, water, all those things,” Martinez said.
Back here in Massachusetts, Baker said that a task force has been formed to ensure the state is prepared to support any residents of Puerto Rico who choose to self-evacuate and seek residence here.