WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday morning nine Metropolitan Police officers and a sargent will leave from Andrews Air Force Base to Puerto Rico to aid in recovery efforts after hurricane Maria ravaged the island, leaving many, still without power and killing at least 16 people.
The effort comes after MPD officers went to their police union asking if they could to volunteer to help.
“Eight of the ten officers that you see standing behind me are former police officers in Puerto Rico, currently working for the Metropolitan Police Department. They are familiar with the landscape and the people of Puerto Rico and in fact have family in Puerto Rico.”, said Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham during Tuesday’s news conference.
“We came from there. We became police officers there. And now we’re going back to help and it means a lot.”, said one of the officers during the news conference.
One of the officers with close ties to the island is Angel Figueroa, who told reporters that he had just made contact with his son for the first time Tuesday, since hurricane Maria struck six days ago.
“I missed the call because I was in such disbelief that I was like, I can’t believe this. Is my son calling me? And I start shaking and I said, son is that you? And he said, ‘Daddy, I’m ok, I love you. ‘, and I told him, alright, hold on, I’m on my way.”, said Officer Figueroa.
There is also a husband and wife team going to help out, Officers Serrano and Ortiz, who met in their native Puerto Rico and also served there as police officers.
“The situation is not good, but I’m excited to go with my husband to help and i rally appreciate the opportunity the department gave us. We’ll be eternally grateful.”, said Officer Serrano.
Once there, the MPD officers will join forces with Puerto Rico state police to give out supplies to survivors.
Chief Newsham gave his officers high praise for volunteersing saying, “As the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, I could not be more proud of these folks that stand behind me, willing to go to another country to help. As you know, our motto on the metropolitan police department is that we are ‘here to help’ and I think this illustrates it better than ever.”