Brazil: Are Brazil’s Police Reformable? / Robert Muggah

There are signs that Brazils already hyper-militarized culture of public security provision is becoming even more securitized. Nowhere are the risks more evident than in Rio de Janeiro where 4,000 federal forces were deployed this month to occupy the city´s most violent favelas, including Maré. The expectation is that they will secure the area in advance of the World Cup and to stay at least until it ends. Meanwhile, images of heavily armed special forces training the newly created pacification police units, or UPP, is also grounds for alarm. There is a danger that the return to repressive law enforcement will undermine important gains in proximity policing since 2009.

Rio de Janeiro´s state government and military police say they have good reasons to call in reinforcements. At least 19 military police officers have been killed since January 2014 in what many believe were coordinated attacks by armed factions, more than all of those assassinated in 2013. Over the past six months there appears to have been an escalation in murders, revenge killings and attacks which is triggering talk of war between the police and the gangs. What is more, the police, and the UPP in particular, are exhausted as they seek to spread their program into some of the most challenging urban settings in the world. It is for these and other reasons that the commanding general called in some 100 elite police into the Alemao slum – and 20 more in Rocinha – to “improve” the training of the UPP. Their operations are described ominously as likely to be extremely “tough.” SEE MORE…

 

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