José Marcelo Zacchi, Pedro Strozenberg and Silvia Ramos
José Marcelo Zacchi he is executive director of Associação Casa Fluminense and associate researcher at IETS.
Peter Strozenberg Executive Secretary of ISER and board member of Casa Fluminense.
Silvia Ramos is coordinator of the Center for Studies in Security and Citizenship at Candido Mendes University.
It is always necessary to remember the more than 5,000 lives saved by the reduction of violent deaths in Rio since the implementation of the UPPs at the end of 2008.
It is always necessary to remember the vision of the change from a “police to make war” to a “police to make peace” and the expansion of citizenship in the favelas as fundamental milestones of this process.
It is always necessary to remember why this is a valuable achievement for society in Rio de Janeiro and Rio de Janeiro, more than any actor in particular. It is the result of 20 years of stalemates and suffering, which brought us overcoming the primacy of war, on the one hand, and recognition of the importance of a citizen police in all areas of the state, on the other. If we have managed to make concrete advances in these directions in recent years, it was because the combined efforts of police officers, diverse social agents, academics and activists were able to produce the necessary repertoire to go beyond “western gratification” versus “police for those in need” in the common path.
We live today, however, the limits of what we fail to do from that. For some years now, multiple voices have drawn attention to the need to open new stages after the initial movement of the UPPs. Progress towards institutionalization, making them truly community-based, engaging the Civil Police and Justice bodies and providing them with solid mechanisms for participation and social control. Promote the broader improvement of our police forces, to deal with the challenges of the whole of Rio, more than just a few areas. Even more decisive, going beyond the police occupation, clearly advancing in the social and urban integration of the benefited areas, with the north of the integrated city as the main objective.
The succession of tragic episodes in different communities and the resumption of the growth of homicides in the state no longer allow us to have doubts about the need to do more than what has been done so far. But it is also evident that the choice of paths for this cannot be between “outside the UPPs” and their unconditional defense. Those who salute the units for demonstrating the possibility of qualified policing in Rio and the reduction of violence are correct. Anyone who criticizes them for limiting police presence and the gradual resumption of old arbitration practices is also right. Our challenge is to have the courage to make this balance with lucidity, producing new convergences.
We have an unfulfilled agenda in public security and policies for the favelas in Rio in recent years. Carrying it out will certainly be the best recipe than losing ourselves in perplexity and resentments that cannot carry us forward. In this sense, the following are challenges to be met: consolidating democratic police action and effecting the expansion of services in pacified areas, fully integrating them into the city as a whole; and the reform of the police forces in the state, creating conditions for universalization and rooting of the process. Rio will need the sum of all willing voices to move forward now.[:en]José Marcelo Zacchi, Pedro Strozenberg and Silvia Ramos
José Marcelo Zacchi is the executive director of Associação Casa Fluminense and research associate of IETS.
Peter Strozenberg is the executive secretary of ISER and board member of Casa Fluminense.
Silvia Ramos is the coordinator of the Center for Studies in Security and Citizenship at the University Candido Mendes.
It should be emphasized that more than 5,000 lives were spared by the reduction of violent fatalities in Rio since the implementation of the Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) at the end of 2008.
We must point out the noteworthy transformation of a “police that fights” to a “police that creates peace”, in which the expansion of citizenship in the slums is an important milestone.
It´s worth pointing out that this valuable achievement impacts the whole society, rather than one particular group only. The result of 20 years of impasse and suffering made us overcome the war primacy and recognize the importance of a police which focuses on true citizenship in all the areas of the State of Rio de Janeiro. If we succeeded to improve throughout the last years, it's because of the combined efforts of the police, social agents, academics and activists that produced the necessary conditions in order to move beyond the “western gratification” versus the “police for the needy”.
Nowadays, however, we are facing the limitations of what we have failed to continue ever since. Throughout the last couple of years, multiple voices have been raised about the need to develop new actions after the initial movement of the UPPs. One of those desires is their institutionalization to make them truly a part of the community, to engage the civil police forces and Justice Institutions, and to provide them with the solid mechanisms of participation and social control. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that promoting a broader improvement of our police forces is key; especially to handle the complex challenges of Rio de Janeiro. It´s even more vital to go beyond the occupation by the police and, with the primary goal of achieving an integrated city, focus on the urban and social integration of the benefited areas.
The increase of tragic events in various communities and the summing up growth of homicides in the state of Rio de Janeiro are unambiguous proof of the need to do more than what has been done so far. It´s obvious that it´s not just an act of choosing between unconditionally defending and banning the UPPs. On the one hand, those who vote for qualification of Rio´s police forces and violence reduction are accurate. On the other hand, those who criticize the system because of its solely focus on physical presence and its gradual reinstatement of old arbitrary practices are correct as well. Our main challenge is to have the courage to clearly diagnose the current situation, generating new convergences.
Rio de Janeiro´s Public Security and Slum Policy agendas have not been met throughout the past few years. Realizing them will certainly be a better bet than losing ourselves in perplexity and resentment which won't help us carrying out anything. In this sense, we face the challenge of consolidating democratic policing and expanding the services in the pacified areas whilst completely integrating them with the city has a whole, and embracing the challenges of the police reform in the State by creating conditions to universalize the process and build a strong foundation for it. To be able to move forward and make a difference as soon as possible, Rio needs to unite the voices that have been raised up till now.