WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The five western Massachusetts police officers who deployed to Puerto Rico in support of hurricane relief efforts last week are returning to Massachusetts early.
According to a statement sent to 22News by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the officers were sent back due to miscommunication regarding their assignments on the island.
Among the officers returning from deployment are three Holyoke police officers, an Easthampton police officer, a Hampden police officer, and two Chelsea police officers.
The officers traveled to Puerto Rico to fulfill a request for assistance that the U.S. territory made through the Emergency Management Assistant Compact to coordinate disaster aid.
Their original time of arrival at Barnes Regional Airport was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. but weather delays caused them to arrive at 4:45 p.m.
One Chicopee police officer told 22News that the officers left Monday and were expected to stay there for weeks.
Several police officers from western Massachusetts are here to welcome their follow officers back home.
The full statement from MEMA is below:
“Seven law enforcement officers from Massachusetts, who had previously deployed to Puerto Rico to assist in hurricane recovery operations, have returned to the Commonwealth. It is our understanding that there was a miscommunication regarding specific parameters of a humanitarian assignment that the officers were involved with, and as a result, the officers were rotated out of their assignment. MEMA continues to work to support Puerto Rico in their recovery process from the recent devastating hurricanes.”
Governor Charlie Baker first announced the deployment of Massachusetts police officers to Puerto Rico on October 4.
MEMA spokesman Christopher Besse told 22News the agency is still working to coordinate two additional rotations of police officers to the island. Those police officers are tentatively scheduled to deploy October 18.