“Difficult to Investigate Rio Militias”: Military Police

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Officer Friendly joins the cult of the skull, or
caveirão: “We kill to create a better world” is the unofficial motto of Rio’s BOPE.

É difícil investigar ligação de PMs com milícia, diz corregedor (G1 news portal, Organizações Capivara Globo): the chief internal affairs officer of the military police says that investigating PMs who moonlight as militiamen and organized-crime equity partners in Rio de Janeiro will be “difficult.”

For a follow-up (September 18, 2007), see

Did I not just tell you that “it is not technically possible” is the unofficial motto of a certain type of Brazilian authority figure? See Brazilian Air Traffic Control: Buck Still Circling the Field.

The official motto of the Brazilian Army is “strong arm, hand of friendship,” but in practice some of the hard men in their hog heaven are more likely to be found living by the creed “hoje só amanhã.”

That is hard to translate, but it literally means “It can only be done today tomorrow.”

It is equivalent to the laconic Mexican mañana — which if you have ever had your VW break down in Baja, as I did in my misspent youth, you will recognize as not a happy thing to be hearing from your roadside mechanic.

Apesar de 84 policiais militares já terem sido presos do início do ano até o fim de março de 2007, o corregedor-chefe da Polícia Militar, coronel Paulo Ricardo Paul, diz que é muito complicado descobrir o envolvimento de PMs com as mílícias – grupos de policiais, bombeiros e civis que cobram por proteção e segurança em comunidades carentes.

Although 84 military policemen have been arrested since the beginning of the year, through the end of March, the chief inspector of the Military Police, Col. Paulo Ricardo Paul, said that it is very complicated to uncover the involvement of PMs with militias — groups of police, firemen and civilians who charge for protection and security in poor communities.

Civilians, generally, who are retired PMs and ex-military. They still have the death’s-head tattoos, of course.

And who also run vice and alt.public.infrastructure rackets, like van services, cooking gas distribution and the GatoNet pirate cable and satellite TV monopoly. And death squads. And possibly even a little narcotics themselves, in some cases.

“É difícil investigar as milícias. Demanda muito de observação. Eu não posso pegar uma equipe de corregedoria e colocar de madrugada em uma comunidade. Tem que ser feito com muito critério”, exemplifica o corregedor da PM.

“It is difficult to investigate militias. It requires a lot of surveillance. I cannot just send out a team from my office to a community in the middle of the night. It has to be done with great care,” said the PM officer.

Segundo o coronel Paul, menos de dez policiais militares tiveram envolvimento constatado com milícias. Ele acredita que existam mais civis do que PMs ligados a esses grupos. “É uma questão matemática. Quantos policiais tinham que ter para ocupar tantas comunidades com milícias?”, questiona o coronel, que garante, entretanto, investigar com rigor o tema.

According to Col. Paulo, fewer than 10 PMs have been proven to have been involved in militias. He believes that there are more civilians than PMs linked to these groups. “It is a mathematical questions. How man police are there to occupy so many communities with militias?” the colonel asks, but says he will investigate the question rigorously.

Each militia has about 10-15 members, I read here and there.

There are reportedly 100 militas — that is also a whisper number, mind you, but a commonly reported one.

So that would mean about, what, 1,500 people doing this. There are, ballpark, 5,000 or 6,000 PMs in the region. That’s off the top of my head, though. Let me check that.

[I was way off, in terms of the state, at any rate. TV Record reports 32,000 PM personnel in Rio state, and says that 10% are involved in “wrongdoing.” No source on that. TV Record being TV Record. See NMM(-TV)SNBCNNBS: TV Record on the Incident at Vila Joaniza.]

A number of independent reports have stated that the militias are exclusively made up of military personnel and ex-personnel, although recently a visible effort is being made to recruit civilian front personnel. See Rio: GatoNet Goes Dark; Alleged Militia Chieftain Netted.

Visible, as in recruiting on Orkut, as I have seen myself — though I obviously did not write in to see if the “community” was legit.

A corregedoria investiga até denúncias anônimas escritas em blogs de policiais militares, de acordo com Coronel Paul. Os sites escritos por PMs se multiplicam pela internet, conforme revelou reportagem do G1.

The internal affairs division has even investigated anonymous accusations written on the blogs of PM personnel, according to Col. Paul. PM-authored Web sites are multiplying, as a G1 report revealed.

PM whistleblowers blog!

G1 is eager to jump on any story with a blogging angle, but at least they are not so crass as to lead with it in this case.

See, for example, Rio: Social Software-Driven Misanthropreneurism.

And hey, I am going to go look at some. There are, I should say — I am channeling Caco Barcellos on this point — and have always been personnel in these forces who were committed to correct conduct. Even when repressing pro-democracy demonstrations, which the PM in its modern form was formed to do.

Barcellos’ Rota 66 has a heartbreaking story on that point.

It’s about a very correct, by-the-book PM sergeant who has to endure a kangaroo court that convicts his son, victim of a PM killing — the standard planted weapon and disturbance of the crime scene by the effort to “render medical aid” to some poor bastard with three holes in his head — as a “criminal element,” post mortem. As a marginal. Has to endure the taunts of his colleagues to that effect.

Enough to drive a man to drink.

Milícias também estão sendo investigadas em grupos de estudos nas Delegacias de Polícia Judiciária Militar. “Grupos de extermínio” (policiais responsáveis por chacinas, como a da Baixada Fluminense, há dois anos), “máfia do transporte alternativo” (negócios de transporte clandestino explorados por policiais e bombeiros) e “máfia dos caça-níqueis” (atuação de policiais como seguranças de contraventores) também são estudados pela corregedoria, porque são os tipos de atuação conjunta mais praticada por PMs, segundo investigações.

Militias are also being investigated in study groups at the military prosecutor’s offices. “Death squads” (policemen who carry out massacres, like the one in the Baixada Fluminense a couple of years ago), “alt.transport mafias” … and “one-armed bandit mafias” … are also being studied by PM internal affairs, because these are the most common types of misconduct by PMs, according to investigations.

Yes, but those organized crime activities allegedly fund freaking militias. And political campaigns. And carnival societies, a case of which we saw recently in São Paulo.

Especialistas elogiam divulgação de dados pela PM

Specialists laud release of data by PM

O sociológo Ignácio Cano, do Laboratório de Análise da Violência da Uerj, elogiou a iniciativa da Polícia Militar de divulgar estatísticas sobre a corrupção policial. “A PM está mais disposta a divulgar. A Polícia Civil é muito mais reticente”, afirmou.

Sociologist Ignácio Cano of Rio State U.’s Violence Analysis Lab praised the PM for releasing statistics on police corruption. “The PM is more inclined to be open. The Civil Police is still reticent.”

But wait: The PM statistics show that almost no PMs are involved in militias.

But it is widely reported that the militias are practically co-extensive with the PM.

Is that what passes for transparency in Rio de Janeiro?

A atuação das corregedorias deve ser pró-ativa, segundo o sociológo. “Tem que se investigar patrimônio e posses de policiais comparados aos seus salários”, propõe. E defende a desvinculação do departamento das corporações policiais. “Qual a chance da corregedoria investigar denúncia ligada diretamente à chefia de policia?”, questiona Cano.

“The internal affairs dept.s must be proactive, not reactive,” the sociologist said. “The finances and property of police must be compared to their salaries,” he proposes. He also argues for making the corregedoria independent of the police hierarchy. “What are the chances that internal affairs are going to investigate charges linked directly to the police leadership?” he asks.

O capitão reformado da Polícia Militar e sociológo, Rodrigo Pimentel, acha que os números crescentes de corrupção policial mostram que se está “enxugando gelo”. “Está aumentando a repressão e não está se fazendo prevenção. O último grande investimento em tecnologia foi o advento do GPS nas viaturas na década de 1990. Toda viatura policial americana possui uma minicam”, propôs.

Retired PM captain and sociologist Rodrigo Pimentel thinks that the growing numbers on police corruption show that authorities are [dithering]: “Repression is increasing but no prevention is being done. The last big investment in technology was the advent of GPS in squad cars in 1990. Every American police car has a minicam,” he says.

Technology is the answer!

I bet you Rodrigo has a few minicams in his garage that he can sell you, too, or friends and clients paying him a commission to push them. Cameras are a good idea, of course … provided someone is monitoring them.

Pimentel is a former captain and head of Bope.

On whom see “We have come to take your souls”.

Para Pimentel, a corrupção na polícia não ocorre no processo de seleção do policial, mas na manutenção. A Polícia Militar realiza testes para o ingresso por concurso público como o exame psicotécnico e de avaliação social, em que são analisadas as vidas anteriores dos candidatos.

According to Pimentel, police corruption does not occur when police are hired, but when they are not maintained properly. The PM administers social and pychological testing as part of its public entrance exams in which the prevous lives of candidates are analysed.

I actually have a personal anecdote to tell about how one person within six degrees of separation from our family nucleus got a job on a BOPE-like unit in another major Brazilian city.

Pimentel is a former officer in a unit with a reputation for massive corruption and brutal thuggery.

Why should we care what he says, again? (Pimentel, aside from writing a book that sets out to answer the question, however, is extraordinarily active in the police blogosphere, it is interesting to note.)

Já o sociológo Michel Misse, coordenador do Núcleo de Estudos da Cidadania, Conflito e Violência Urbana da UFRJ, acha que o “processo de seleção é mal-feito”. “Eles fazem mal a pesquisa de informação social sobre o candidato. Perderam qualidade nos últimos anos, sendo responsáveis pelo ingresso de gente sem condições na policia”, avalia Misse, que acha que a PM está procurando corrigir problemas, sendo transparente com estatísticas de corrupção.

Sociologist Michel Misse of … the Federal U. of Rio thinks “the selection process is badly done.” “They botch the background check on candidates. It has gotten worse in recent years, with people getting in who ought not to be policemen,” he says. Misse thinks the PM are trying to correct their problems, being transparent with corruption statistics.

Remember that old Twilight Zone episode about the little kid with the superpowers, who can transform the world with his imagination?

“It is good that Bobby turned grandma into a hamster” the victims chirp, sweating profusely and smiling through clenched teeth.

Affirming the non-futility of farcical PM self-regulation and “reform” efforts strikes me as a similar moment.

Os números da atuação da Corregedoria da Polícia Militar foram considerados sinais de que o comando da Polícia Militar está no caminho certo na análise do capitão André Batista, da Diretoria Geral de Saúde, um dos autores do livro “Elite da Tropa”. Ele julga prioritários investimentos na corregedoria, como defendido pelo comando da PM, e na supervisão disciplinar do trabalho de policiais por superiores.

The numbers from the PM inspector general are considered a sign that the command of the PM is one the road path, in the view of Capt. André Batista, from the Health Directorate, co-author of the book “The Trooper Elite.” He thinks that investments in internal affairs are esentials, as the PM command also thinks, rather than disciplinary supervision of police agents by their superior officers.

“É imperativo que se exercite a supervisão de oficiais em todos os níveis de execução do serviço policial, e se puna efetivamente com rigor (os policiais envolvidos em crimes) para que fique claro que a administração não tergiversa diante dos fatos ilícitos, dando claro recado aos criminosos que aviltam a farda da PM”, informou Batista.

“It is imperative that supervision be exercised over police personnel at all levels, and that police involved in crimes be punished severely so that it is clear that the administration does not waver before illicit activity, sending a clear message to criminals who disgrace the uniform of the PM,” Batista said.

On Batista’s book (Folha de S. Paulo, April 20, 2006)

Autores do livro “Elite da Tropa”, que descreve o Bope (Batalhão de Operações Especiais da Polícia Militar do Rio) como sendo uma máquina de matar, afirmam que o capitão da PM André Batista, que também assina a publicação, foi chamado de “inimigo” durante cerimônia no quartel-general da corporação da qual participaram cem oficiais.

Authors of the book “The Trooper Elite,” which describes BOPE as a killing machine, say that Capt. Batista, whose name appears on the book, was called an “enemy” during a ceremony in the barracks in which 100 officers took part.

It is, by the way, a work of fiction.

His co-author was Pimentel, who now is a technical adviser to the film industry, and movie producer.

It seems like most of the sources for this story were arranged through a single literary agent.

No members of community groups that have campaigned for an end to police misconduct.

I need to read that book, by the way. One-click that for me on Submarino, honey!

A capsule review from the USP Violence Studies Center.

Ainda que sob a forma de narrativas fictícias presentadas pelo personagem de um policial, Elite da tropa é resultado de uma combinação das experiências de seus autores na corporação policial e na gestão da segurança pública. O livro tem a autoria do antropólogo Luiz Eduardo Soares, que atuou na gestão da segurança pública como coordenador de Segurança, Justiça e Cidadania do governo do Rio de Janeiro entre 1999 e 2000, e como secretário nacional de Segurança Pública em 2003; de André Batista e Rodrigo Pimentel que, durante os anos 1990, integraram o Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais da Polícia Militar do Rio e Janeiro (Bope).

Although presented in the form of fictious narratives narrated by a character who is a policeman, the book is the result of the combined experiences of its authors in the police force and management of public safety. It lists as its authors Luiz Eduardo Soares, who worked as Security, Justice and Citizenship secretary for the state government of Rio between 1999 and 2000, and as national public safety secretary (under the federal Ministry of Justice) in 2003; and Batista and Pimentel, who were members of BOPE in the 1990s.

Elite da tropa apresenta um panorama sombrio da segurança pública no Rio de Janeiro, explicitando que as “políticas” de segurança não prescindem da violência policial no trato da criminalidade, que a corrupção está profundamente arraigada nas instituições e que existe uma forte relação entre violência e corrupção.

The book paints a somber picture of public safety in Rio, making explicit that security “policies” do not deter police violence in dealing with crime, that corruption is profoundly rooted in the institution and that there is a strong correlation between violence and corruption.

Soares defended drug legalization during his short tenure, which the current Rio governor is now advocating. See this translation of an op-ed at the time by Narconews, as well as my “A Brazilian Walks Into An Amsterdam Hash Bar”: Gabeira on The Clockwork Orange.

But why so short a tenure?

One thought on ““Difficult to Investigate Rio Militias”: Military Police

  1. Pingback: NMM(-TV)SNBCNNBS: Rio Drug Violence, 1999 « NMM Business Continuity

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