By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The new Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) commander Colonel Paulo Henrique Azevedo has announce his first order of business. He plans to decentralize the power of the existing 28 UPPs by opening eight regional coordination offices that will provide local leadership for each different community.
Colonel Azevedo also announced that the police training will be intensified and that a judicial force (Delegacia de Polícia Judiciária Militar, or DPJM) will be installed in already existing UPPs.
He declared these changes to the pacifying program on Wednesday, December 19th, in the midst of a celebration of four years anniversary of the first ever UPP in Rio de Janeiro, in the favela Santa Marta (also known as Dona Marta).
Four years ago, when the colonel belonged to the Battalion of Special Operations (BOPE), it was unthinkable to enter the community unarmed. Yet on Wednesday he was not carrying a gun.
Azevedo told O Globo: “We need to keep the balance, increase the troops’ training, but never changing the philosophy of the pacification. I have experience in conflicts but that does not mean I will implement the [BOPE] ideology on the UPPs. What we want is to solidify the peace.”
These words came to the relief of many, as Colonel Azevedo has been a commander of BOPE and many thought he would bring the same attitudes he held there to the pacifying program.
State Secretary of Security José Mariano Beltrame was also present, celebrating the fact that many young children who now live in the favela community have never experienced the fear of shooting and violence in their homes – a very different experience to that of their parents.
Beltrame told O Globo: “We will always have to make adjustments but I think we’re on the right path.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
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