National News

10 local police officers to help in Puerto Rico

Posted October 6

— Governor Charlie Baker announced this week that ten police officers from western Massachusetts will be deployed to Puerto Rico.

Police officers from Holyoke, Hampden, and Easthampton will head to the island to assist local law enforcement with security duties.

Easthampton Police Chief Alberti posted on the department's Facebook page, sending well wishes to Officer Luis Rivera on his journey to Puerto Rico.

A total of 69 police officers from Massachusetts will be divided up over the course of six weeks which will be split up into three, two week rotations.

Eight of Holyoke's police officers are heading to Puerto Rico as well, but more than a dozen volunteered, eager to help out.

"Holyoke has a large connection to Puerto Rico," said Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger.

Neiswanger is proud of his team.

"Dedicated, hardworking officers," Neiswanger added.

The announcement comes after Puerto Rico accepted an offer from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, also known as MEMA after they requested help from the mutual aid state-to-state emergency agency called EMAC.

"They're gonna get deployed down there. They'll be living in rough conditions, living either on a ship or a makeshift military base that was put up," Neiswanger explained.

The officers are divided into three separate two-week rotations.

"The call went out for bilingual officers and that's what we're trying to do to do our part," Neiswanger noted.

Neiswanger told Western Mass News some of his officers have family on the island. He's making sure his officers are prepared.

"Each officer's being told to bring a bedroll with them," Neiswanger said.

The officers will also bring bug repellant, sunscreen, and canteens.

"The city of Holyoke wants to do everything we can," Neiswanger added.

Officers will be paired up with a local law enforcement official in Puerto Rico. Together, they'll work on security and curfew enforcement.

FEMA has arranged for 13 Massachusetts State Police cruisers to be flown to Puerto Rico.

The date for their deployment has not been announced.

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