Police to patrol Isla Verde tourism strip overnight on weekends
In response to multiple incidents involving tourists reported in Carolina’s popular district of Isla Verde, the municipality is implementing stricter security measures by limiting transit on Isla Verde Avenue exclusively to locals between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Thursday through Sunday.
The night patrol will be conducted by a team of 30 officers from Carolina’s municipal police along with several state police officers. They will be controlling and directing traffic in all of Isla Verde’s entrances as well as intensifying patrols in the areas with most tourists.
The police’s virtual security unit will also be monitoring footage from security cameras that have been strategically placed throughout Isla Verde. Their main goal is to be able to prevent future incidents.
“We have been actively working on the prevention of improper conduct…however, it was necessary to establish stricter control to avoid that they [situations] keep repeating, situations so despicable like the ones we’ve recently seen in the tourist zones of Isla Verde and San Juan where they disrespect our island and the hospitality that has always distinguished us,” said Carolina Mayor José Carlos Aponte.
They mayor also said that the unit would be orienting visitors on what current regulations are in the city, as well as enforcing that businesses close at 11 p.m. to assure compliance with the governor’s most recent executive order and the islandwide 12 a.m. curfew.
“We want to be facilitators so that tourists as well as visitors have assurance that Carolina is a spectacular place to vacation, but that we’re equally a place where mutual respect, security, and order are part of our attributes,” he added.
This week, two tourists from the US mainland were arrested at the Carolina air base, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. Among them was 24-year-old Boston native, Willie Watson, who was arrested after allegedly assaulting an airline employee who asked him to put on a mask. Judge Wilfredo Viera determined probable cause to charge Watson for aggression and set bail for $50,000, which Watson did not post.
New Jersey resident Shannon Gepp was also arrested for possession of a controlled substance after she was allegedly caught with multiple bags of cocaine in the airport. The judge in her case also determined probable cause, setting her bail for $10,000. She posted bail on Mar. 17, and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Mar. 29 at 8:30 a.m.
Locals being held accountable for tourists’ actions
Meanwhile, local officials continue to ask for cooperation from residents in enforcing rules among tourists.
Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Public Security, Alexis Torres, said that one of the strategies he’s focusing on to eradicate the incidents is “bettering communication with citizens and business owners.”
He made a plea with business owners to not offer services or sell their products to people who break the law or don’t follow the island’s COVID-19 protocols, emphasizing the community’s responsibility to inspire tourists to behave.
Torres also asked for hotels to report the names of potentially problematic tourists to authorities before situations escalate.
This week an Uber driver from Bayamon was fined $1,000 by Puerto Rico’s police department after a video where he parked on the side of a busy roadway and allowed his passengers to defecate circulated on social media.
The police determined that as the Uber driver, he was partially responsible for controlling his passengers while they were in his car. He was fined $500 for permitting indecent exposure and $500 for parking in green areas.
It is unclear if legal action was also taken against the passengers.