By Zoë Roller, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Government and police officials are developing new anti-corruption measures, spurred in part by recent events in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone). A UPP (Police Pacification Unit) is slated to be installed in Rocinha this year, but in addition to the increase in crime since pacification began, police in the favela are now under investigation for corruption.
Last week a leaked Civil Police Intelligence Unit dossier was made public, revealing that Military Police officers in Rocinha are accepting bribes from traffickers. According to the documents, traffickers made a “down payment” of R$200,000, and pay out R$80,000 a month.
In return, the report indicated police limit their presence to the main roads of the favela, allowing drug deals to take place undisturbed in back streets and alleys. The Military Police’s Internal Affairs department responded to the accusation by opening an investigation of its own.
State Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame criticized the decision to publish the dossier. “The accusations of bribery have not been proven,” he stated. “The report is not a fountain of truth, and it should have been investigated thoroughly before being made public.” The Civil Police officers responsible for leaking the report were disciplined.
Internal Affairs is also investigating five police officers for attempting to helping former drug chief Nem and several members of his gang escape from Rocinha before pacification. Nem was caught mid-escape and arrested on November 9th, 2011.
Policy makers are combating corruption through several channels. After corruption charges were brought against UPP officers in São Carlos and Santa Teresa, Governor Sérgio Cabral passed a decree requiring police and firefighters to declare their personal and household assets every year. Officers whose assets do not match their salaries will be investigated by Internal Affairs.
The declarations will include real estate holdings, stocks, and foreign bank accounts, making it difficult to conceal illicit sums. Police commanders will be responsible for reporting officers who display disproportionate signs of wealth.
Vanderlei Ribeiro, a Military Police official, has questioned the constitutionality of the decree. “This would only be valid if it were applied equally to all civil servants,” he said. Secretary Beltrame, however, supports the idea of a preemptive strike against corruption.
On Wednesday Cabral proposed a program that addresses one of the principal causes of corruption: low salaries that create the need for additional income sources. Rio state Military Police earn the lowest salaries in the country, a fact that was often repeated during the police strike in January.
Some take under-the-table second jobs as security guards or bouncers, or become involved in criminal activity. The program, Mais Policia (“More Police”) legalizes outside work and guarantees fair pay. Officers can be hired by private companies or work up to 96 hours of overtime shifts every month.
Secretary Beltrame approved of creating a safe alternative to informal jobs: “In some cases policemen who are trying to earn more money end up working on the street, getting hurt, and even losing their lives.”
Officers working overtime hours will reinforce the police presence in especially dangerous regions, and provide security at upcoming events like Rio+20, the 2014 World Cup, and the 2016 Olympics.