Haiti — Officer Joseph Jacquet is one of six Haitian-born NYPD officers on a three-month rotation in Port-au-Prince.
He is training and mentoring national police officers in the wake of last year’s devastating earthquake. It’s a hands on assignment, where he and his colleagues are collaborating in the field, and dealing with Haitian suspects.
“The people on the street feel comfortable seeing us,” Jacquet says. “They cooperate with us.”
In the case of a 14-year-old suspect accused of stealing scrap metal from an abandoned gas station, this certainly turned out to be the case. The teen confessed to the crime and now waits for sentencing behind bars.
The police in Haiti have never needed this assistance more. Since the earthquake last January, officers have been working out of tents distributed by aid groups.
Their offices were destroyed. But many of these officers lost so much more in the disaster. Many on the Haitian National Police force lost their homes and even members of their family.
Prisons were also destroyed, allowing thousands of convicted criminals to escape, complicating law enforcement efforts even more.
“In Port-au-Prince alone, in the main penitentiary, they had over 4,300 people escape, and countrywide, about 6,000,” said NYPD Sgt. Herve Guiteau. “Because a good portion were hardened criminals … they’ve re-started in doing what they were doing before.”