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NYPD Set to Aid Haitian Police

NYPD Set to Aid Haitian Police

Wall Street Journal

August 03, 2010

NEW YORK CITY – New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly returned to Haiti on Monday to meet with the earthquake-devastated country’s president and lay the groundwork for the deployment later this month of six Creole-speaking NYPD officers to help train the Haitian police force.

Mr. Kelly, who helped establish an interim police force there after political chaos enveloped Haiti in the 1990s, met with Haitian President Rene Preval and his top security officials to discuss Haiti’s law-enforcement strategies.

Mr. Kelly last met with Mr. Preval in early January, three days before Haiti was hit by a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed at least 230,000, displaced millions and crippled the country’s physical and governmental infrastructures.

“No place needs an earthquake, but Haiti was the last place on earth that could sustain one,” Mr. Kelly said.

The costs of the daylong meetings and the reassignment of the New York officers is being covered by the U.S. State Department as part of the effort to help rebuild the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. Mr. Kelly said the officers will be on 90-day assignments and rotate in and out in six-member teams.

Even eight months after the quake, the devastation was apparent at every stop on Mr. Kelly’s itinerary.

First, the police commissioner met with Mr. Preval not in the once-beautiful Presidential Palace in Port au Prince but in a makeshift office erected on top of a parking garage on grounds of the quake-damaged building. Next Mr. Kelly met Minister of Justice and Public Security Paul Denis in a temporary building erected next to his ministry’s former home. Then Mr. Kelly met with the director general of the Haitian National Police, Mario Andresol, in another temporary headquarters built on the grounds of the Port au Prince airport.

“What’s really devastating to me is the condition of the Presidential Palace,” Mr. Kelly said. “It really was a majestic building and to see the shape it’s in now is really appalling.”

Mr. Kelly said the biggest difference between Haiti before and after the earthquake is that before their major concerns were kidnappings and drug trafficking and now its how to keep order in the refugee camps. He said he visited one camp that had 50,000 refugees in it today and what he considered an inadequate number of police officers.

Providing training officers is the second major step by the NYPD to aid Haiti. About 100 officers helped with search and rescue after the Jan. 12 quake.

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