By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão has announced that the final bases for the city’s new Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) will be constructed under an urgency regime, not needing environmental licenses and land titles. The decision comes after conflicts between the police and drug trafficking gangs, often involving civilians in the cross fire, have increased.
Many UPPs were hastily set up in containers as police presence was urgent in the communities. The containers offer little security for the policemen and many of them are in a precarious state.
“There is a lot of bureaucracy, which needs to be overcome. If we wait for land titles, registration of the building, licenses, we will wait for the rest of our lives, and the police will continue to work in precarious conditions,” Pezão justified the construction of the final bases under the urgency regime.
“Because the dealer goes in there, or the militia, they set up their warehouse, set up their drug selling schemes and don’t ask anyone for a license. So, the state will go in and will be strongly present within these communities. It is my determination that we do these constructions immediately,” he continued.
Furthermore, Pezão explained that works on the UPP base in the Complexo da Maré, where the police is currently taking over from the military, have already started and that the state of Rio de Janeiro will receive R$70 million from the ALERJ (Rio’s state parliament), as well as the help of Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes with at least eight bases.
The governor also announced to hire another 6,000 military policemen, as soon as their training courses have been completed. In the first three months of 2015, already 1,100 new police were incorporated into the corps. The 38 UPPs in Rio de Janeiro currently count with almost 10,000 policemen.
Pezão’s announcement happened in light of the latest confrontation in a pacified community, which took place in Complexo do Alemão over the last days. The clash between police and suspected drug traffickers claimed several civilian victims among them ten year-old Eduardo de Jesus, whose mother claims he was shot by the police.
Over a ten year period, 82 children aged under fourteen have died from stray bullets fired by policemen in Brazil. Sixty percent of them, fifty children, died in Rio de Janeiro state alone, according to data collected by O Globo from the Health’s Ministry’s mortality information system database between 2003 and 2012.
According to experts, Rio de Janeiro stands out in the statistics due to the lack of preparation of security personnel and a confrontations culture, which lead to a lethal police force with victims of all ages.
Jaqueline Muniz, professor in security at the Federal University Fluminense, explained to O Globo: “The problem of police killings is concentrated in Rio de Janeiro due to what we call confrontation culture. It is not enough to say the [police] corporation is unprepared and they need to train more. You need to be clear about the doctrine on which this training is based on.”