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Police say Puerto Rico officers are ending sickout

Tuesday - 4/23/2013, 7:40pm  ET

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Police officers in Puerto Rico are slowly returning to work after staging a sickout at a rate of nearly 2,000 officers a day, authorities said Tuesday night.

The sickout came a month after hundreds of officers protested proposed cuts in retirement benefits and demanded higher wages and overtime pay. They also protested an announcement by the U.S. territory's governor that public employees will have to take time off rather than be paid for accrued sick leave.

Col. Reinaldo Bermudez, operations director for the island's police force, said that police operations were slowly returning to normal.

"The absenteeism we experienced in the past couple of days has been reduced to 5 percent," he said.

Police Chief Hector Pesquera had warned on Monday that the absences were putting the public at risk.

With roughly 17,000 officers, Puerto Rico has the second-largest police force in the U.S.

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