By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Choque de Ordem (Shock and Order) was created in 2009 in the city of Rio with the goal of “putting an end to urban disorder”. The Unidade de Ordem Pública (UOP) arm of the program involves a heavy police presence on the streets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they arrived in Ipanema December 5th.
The UOP was first inaugurated in Tijuca on April 18th, 2011, with 180 Guarda Municipal (Municipal Guard, MG) officers monitoring some thirty streets. On September 5th it was launched in Centro with 420 MGs, and in Leblon on October 27th, with 220 MGs, and now Ipanema, with 234 MGs working in shifts.
During the first day of implementation of the Public Order Unit of Ipanema the Special Secretariat of Public Order towed 35 vehicles (including eleven motorcycles and three trucks) and fined 78 for parking irregular in several streets of the neighborhood.
They also seized approximately 800 propaganda leaflets that were distributed on the sidewalks. Two plant kiosks were cited for displaying goods beyond the permitted space, as well as food seized at the Rua Henrique Dumont street market.
In a press statement, Alex Costa, Secretary of Public Order said: “UOP Ipanema is the second deployed in the south and the fourth in the city. As already happens with the units of Tijuca, Centro and Leblon, the guards who will serve in the new UOP are prepared to act 24 hours [a day] identifying the specific problems of each region … which represents a new phase of combating disorder in the city.”
Sam Flowers, owner of the Gringo Café in Ipanema, and also a resident of the neighborhood says: “I have definitely noticed the high number of ‘police’ walking and patrolling the streets every day. I see them hassling some people (cars and motorcycles in the wrong place, etc.), but mostly I just see them driving and walking around.”
The UOP in Ipanema is operating in 470,000 square meter area, covering most of the main streets. In speaking about the Shock and Order, Jason Galeria, Ipanema resident and co-owner of Blue Agave bar and restaurants expressed some mixed opinions.
“I suppose that cleaning up the streets is necessary, but honestly, I have found it to be a bit of a nuisance more than anything else. Important issues, like drugs and violent assaults have not been addressed, but the people selling pirated goods are off the streets.” he said.
The city describes the need for the program, because “urban disorder is the major catalyst in the sense of public insecurity and generating conditions conducive to crime in general.” And will do so by “combating illegal parking, illegal occupation of public space and the practice of petty crimes.”
It is too soon to tell what kind of effect the UOP will have on crime and security, and residents are still weighing the pros-and-cons to this type of law enforcement.
Flowers says: “I think the concept is a good one, but I don’t think we as taxpayers are getting our money’s worth. I see a lot of money being spent to have a lot of them around and yet I still have to spend extra money for security for my restaurant.”
Choque de Ordem has been compared to ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani’s zero-tolerance law-enforcement policy in New York City, which was based on the “broken windows theory” that allowing public spaces to deteriorate invites crime. Giuliani Partners, Rudy Giuliani’s firm, has a security consulting contract with Rio de Janeiro, to help prepare the city for the 2016 Olympic Games.