By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — The community of Villa Kennedy in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) received the city’s 38th UPP (Police Pacification Unit) yesterday morning. The chief of operations of the military police of Rio de Janeiro, colonel Paulo Henrique Moraes, reported that around 6AM the favela was occupied by security forces.
According to Rio’s Department of Public Safety, the community was occupied in twenty minutes without resistance or shots fired. At around 7:45 AM, three people had been arrested.
The operation involved 300 men from the Shock Battalion (Batalhão de Choque) and Special Operations Battalion (BOPE). Additionally, another 350 policemen were sent to nearby Favela Rola to prevent the escape of criminals from Vila Kennedy to other communities.
According to Moraes, the UPP in Vila Kennedy will receive 250 military policemen and only those officers will be stationed there as the community is relatively small and less densely populated than the Jacarézinho favela in the Zona Norte (North Zone), for example.
Moraes said that the fact that the occupation occurred midweek is nothing new. “They [occupations] are organized so that they are less harmful to the community,” said Moraes. “The regulation is for the residents so they can lead normal lives.”
The community of Vila Kennedy has about 22,000 residents. From January to June 2013, police arrested over 200 criminals in the region. Police estimated that the installation of the UPP in Vila Kennedy will benefit 33,000 people and neighboring community, Favela da Metral.
According to the City Department of Education, seventeen schools and kindergartens that operate in the region suspended classes and eight thousand students were affected by the UPP installation. The State Department of Education reported that two schools also suspended activities; 700 students went without classes.
The UPPs are a project of the State Secretariat of Safety of Rio de Janeiro and began with the installation of a unit in the hillside community of Santa Marta.
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