Baldorioty surveillance cameras no help in determining who threw debris that injured driver

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

Following an incident in which a 21-year-old woman was hit by a piece of concrete while driving with her husband on the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway on Saturday evening, Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) Carolina Norte Headquarters Director Fermín González said on Sunday that the cameras along the highway have not been in working order for years.

“Those cameras worked a few years ago; from my understanding, they are not working [anymore]. They weren’t given any maintenance, or I don’t know, but seriously, they are not working,” González said, adding that the cameras’ maintenance was not under the PRPB’s jurisdiction.

When the Star asked if such an incident has occurred before, González said that for the Carolina Norte region, it was the first time that he has received a report since he began working at the precinct.

“According to [the] Statistics [Department], in this area, in this region, it is something new, something that happened [for the first time] yesterday [Saturday]; in this sector, we have never seen something like this sort of incident. We will be working on a plan to find the perpetrators of this incident and prevent something like this from happening again,” González said. “This situation, even though I have been in this [precinct] for two months, it’s the first time that I have been informed that objects have been thrown at drivers [traveling on PR]-26.”

As for Michelle Rodríguez, the woman who was injured in the incident, González said she is “alert, conscious, and waiting for maxillofacial surgery.” Her husband, 21-year-old Roberto Medero, is in stable condition, he added.

“We are working on a plan to correct this matter, to find the perpetrators and to minimize such practice,” González said.

Ex-DTOP communications and press adviser: Agency’s highway cameras ‘are only for traffic monitoring’

Police cameras are not the only ones on the highway. In some sections of the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP by its Spanish acronym) also has cameras installed, but with a different purpose.

Former DTOP communications and press adviser Juan José Díaz told the Star that the cameras installed along the Baldorioty de Castro highway by that agency are for live traffic monitoring. They are part of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) whose aim is to provide services for transport and traffic management. Díaz said the ITS cameras were not installed for surveillance as were the PRPB’s cameras installed in the aforementioned area.

“On that highway, there have only been two [types of] cameras, the ones from the PRPB, which were installed for recording … and the ones from DTOP, which never record; those cameras are only for traffic monitoring,” Díaz said.

He added that the DTOP cameras, which are monitored by the department’s Traffic Monitoring Center in Caguas, are used to look out for any driver-citizen who needs road service in case of an emergency. When the Star asked if those cameras have any been used in a police investigation, he said their function is only for traffic monitoring.

“The cameras from either the Highways and Transportation Authority [ACT by its Spanish acronym] or DTOP do not record,” Díaz said. “They are not cameras used for surveillance, used to [investigate] any felony. These cameras, which have been allocated through federal funds, are used for live traffic monitoring. Their maintenance is under their own jurisdiction.”

No response from DTOP officials, including Secretary Carlos Contreras, on the matter had been received as of press time.

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