Tupi Cops in Crisis: “Negligence by Government and Police Commanders”

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… superior officers start supplying their subordinates as manpower for these illegal activities, that is, to work in their fictional “private security firms.” Because there is no oversight, these mafias get mixed up with the drug traffic and every other type of crime. This is the fertile ground that produced the militias of Rio and the death squads of São Paulo. 

“Há omissão do governo e do comando da PM”: The Estado de S. Paulo continues its series on the assassination of the state military police patrol commander for the Northern Zone here in São Paulo.

It has reported that the man was killed by a death squad operating out of the 18th Battalion and that ballistics show the weapon used was used in a drive-by execution last year, possibly requested as a personal favor by a ROTA sergeant living in the neighborhood.

The colonel who was killed reportedly tried to sack more than 50 policemen under his command over executions, protection rackets, bribe-taking, and the like.

The series moved to page C-6 of the Metrópole section yesterday, and featured this short interview with one of the authors of Elite da Tropa, the basis for the film on Rio’s BOPE that recently won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival.

Ex-secretário Nacional de Segurança Pública, co-autor do livro Elite da Tropa, atualmente passando uma temporada na Universidade de Harvard, onde participa de um modelo para auxiliar políticas públicas na área de segurança, o antropólogo Luiz Eduardo Soares, secretário de Prevenção da Violência de Nova Iguaçu, na Baixada Fluminense, concedeu entrevista ao Estado:

Former national public security secretary, co-author of Elite da Tropa, and currently spending a term at Harvard University, where he is helping to develop public policies in the area of public security, anthropologist Luiz Eduardo Soares, currently municipal secretary for violence prevention in Nova Iguaçu in the Baixada Fluminense [“downstate Rio”], gave an interview to the Estado: 

Qual a gravidade de um coronel pedir transferência por não se sentir respaldado para sanear as forças policiais que comanda?

How serious is it that a colonel asked for a transfer because he did not feel he had support for cleaning up the police forces he commanded?

É escandaloso, absurdo, inaceitável, e deveria ocupar as manchetes da mídia séria, comprometida com a legalidade. Essa transferência significa que profissionais decentes, dispostos a cumprir seu dever, estão sendo chantageados pela banda podre, ostensivamente, e que o acuamento está sendo, indiretamente, por omissão, chancelado pelos superiores, na PM, na secretaria, no governo. Em um país sério, isso seria um escândalo que exigiria imediata intervenção do governo e amplo repúdio social.

It’s scandalous, it’s absurd, it’s unacceptable, and ought to make headlines in any serious news organization that is committed to the democratic rule of law. This transfer means that decent professionals, with a desire to do their duty, are being blackmailed by the rotten element, openly, and that the situation is being ratified, tacitly, by omission, by his superiors in the military police, the secretary of public security (SSP), the government. In a serious country, this would be a scandal that would lead to direct government intervention and widespread repudation by society.

Como se chega a uma situação como essa?

How does it come to a situation like this?

A impunidade e a naturalização da violência policial são dois pontos importantes. A violência policial vem acompanhada, freqüentemente, de corrupção, porque aquele que pode matar sem risco e custo, pode também vender a vida e a liberdade. A privatização da segurança é outro aspecto. Os policiais criminosos sabem fazer política: articulam-se com os níveis hierárquicos mais diversos, no interior da corporação, e com políticos que atuam em áreas populares. A principal condição de possibilidade para essa dinâmica é a cegueira oficial para a segurança privada informal e ilegal, porque a negligência se transforma em cumplicidade, quando oficiais superiores passam a agenciar subalternos para a prática do ilícito, isto é, o trabalho em suas firmas fantasma de segurança. Como não há fiscalização para essa atividade, as máfias vão se enredando no tráfico de armas e se envolvendo em todo tipo de crime. Esse é o terreno fecundo que produz as milícias fluminenses e os esquadrões da morte paulistas.

Impunity and the banalization of police violence are two important points. Police violence has often been accompanied by corruption, because the cop who is able to kill without risk and without cost can also sell life and liberty. The privatization of security is another aspect. Criminal policemen know how to play politics: they lobby at various levels of the hierarchy inside the force and with politicians who operate in [poor] areas. The main enabling factor for this dynamic is official blindness to private, informal and illegal, security arrangement, because negligence becomes complicity, in which superior officers start supplying their subordinates as manpower for these illegal activities, that is, to work in their fictional “private security firms.” Because there is no oversight, the mafias get mixed up with the drug traffic and every other type of crime. This is the fertile ground that produced the militias of Rio and the death squads of São Paulo.

Qual o papel do governo em um caso como esse?

What is the government’s role in a case like this?

O governador tem responsabilidade direta e não pode fingir que não está acontecendo nada ou que o fato não tem maior relevância. Essa é nossa tragédia, no Brasil. Nossos melhores quadros políticos e intelectuais não entendem absolutamente nada a respeito do que seja segurança pública, do que está em jogo, de seu papel social e histórico. Consideram segurança tema bom para campanha, quando se está na oposição, mas ruim para o governo. Quem está disposto, hoje, no Brasil, a se arriscar, pessoal e politicamente, para enfrentar seja o crime organizado (que invadiu a política), seja os lobbies corporativos das polícias, em nome de uma reforma institucional profunda?

The governor has directly responsibility and cannot pretend that nothing is happening or that these facts are not signficiant. That is our tragedy, here in Brazil. Our best political and intellectual leaders understand absolutely nothing about public security, about what is at stake, about their social and historical role. They think public security makes a good campaign issue, when one is in opposition, but a bad issue when one is in government. Who in Brazil today is willing to risk themselves, politically and personally, to take on organized crime (which has infiltrated politics), or the corporate lobbies of the police forces, in the name of deep institutional reform?

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Extreme institutional message-control malfunction: ROTA gets a YouTube music video straight out of A Clockwork Orange. “If you run, ROTA will get you. If you don’t, ROTA will gun you down.” Source: G1/Globo.

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