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The Aquino Killing | Policing Up the Brass?

The overkill death of a man from our neighborhood during a police «blitz» a week ago has faded to page C6 in the Folha de S. Paulo.

The Folha does, however, feature a debate on page A3 on whether the military police should be disbanded or merely reformed. In our last update on the case, a federal prosecutor said he would bring a civil suit demanding the firing of top police brass.

Since the last report on the case, when the three police were still in military custody after being ordered released by a civilian court, the men have been freed by a military tribunal and assigned to desk duty pending investigation of possible tampering with the crime scene.

We can testify firsthand — the shooting happened a handful of meters from our front gate –that the crime scene did not seem to be effectively cordoned off and secured in the interim between the incident and the crime scene reconstruction.

Closed-circuit security cameras show military police disturbing the scene where publicist Ricardo Prudente de Aquino, 39, was killed on July 18.

Cid Vieira de Souza Filho, attorney for the Aquino family, says the footage shows the military police retrieving shell casings from the shots fired by their weapons.

We regret not performing our duties as citizen journalists in the incident, but you know how it is: sticking your head out to watch troopers who cultivate a death-dealing public image is not wise.

“We expect that these images will prompt the state high court[, the TJ,]to review its decision to release the three PMs on bail,”Souza Filho said, referring to Robson Tadeu do Nascimento Paulino, 30, Luis Gustavo Teixeira Garcia, 28, and Adriano Costa da Silva, 26.

Despite TJ’s ruling, the men were not released because they also face charges in the state military high court. The defendants filed a motion for their release with the military court yesterday.

The images mentioned by the attorney were not furnished to this newspaper. The state judicial police is limiting itself to saying that the footage is part of the case file that has already been sent to the state prosecutor;

The Estado de S. Paulo reports:

Prosecutor Rogério Zagallo, who attended the crime scene restaging on Thursday evening, said that surveillance cameras in police custody show a police trooper policing up shell casings after the shooting. Zagallo says, however, that it is not possible to tell from the video whether this was one of the troopers involved in the shooting.

The head of police internal affairs is also recommending a change in procedure with regard to injured parties at crime scenes. It has long been the practice to «render aid» to fatal shooting victims in order to disrupt crime scene investigation. Caco Barcellos described this practice in the 1993 investigative report Rota 66.

Police ombudsman Luiz Gonzaga Dantas will request that military police no longer render aid to shooting victims — a practice often used to cover up homicides committed by the police themselves. He also proposes reducing working hours and providing psychological oversight of the troops. “Police are not physicians and have no medical training,” said Dantas.

Dantas also said that PMs need to be rotated more often. «We propose using teams of psychologists and psychiatrists from public universities to evaluate police personnel, especially those who serve on the front lines.»

Yeas and Nays

Writing in favor of a constitutional reform of the state military police forces are RUY BRAGA (University of S. Paulo) and ANA LUIZA FIGUEIREDO (Fenajufe)

In late may of this year, the United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights recommended the disbanding of Brazil’s military police. This advice raises the issue: is it possible to guarantee public safety without recourse to military violence? We believe it is.

For this to occur, however, it will be necessary to overcome a conditioned reflex of the populist right wing with regard to the «dangerous underclasses», which credits these with violence among the urban poor.

RENATO SÉRGIO DE LIMA (Brazilian Forum on Public Security)

The debate over whether to disband the military police reopens the wound that is the collapse of public safety in Brazil.

De um problema social de primeira grandeza, a segurança teima em ser relegada à condição de pária político, da qual grande parcela dos políticos procura manter uma distância regulamentar ou, se a assume em seus discursos, é para explorá-la a partir do culto ao ódio ou do medo da população.

Afinal, a violência urbana persiste como um dos mais graves problemas sociais no Brasil, totalizando mais de 800 mil vítimas fatais nos últimos 15 anos.

Nosso sistema é caro, ineficiente, capacita e paga mal os policiais e convive com padrões operacionais inaceitáveis de letalidade e vitimização policial.

Em suma, não conseguimos oferecer serviços de qualidade e, com isso, reforçamos a perversa desigualdade social do país.

É fato que a história recente da segurança pública no Brasil tem sido marcada por demandas acumuladas e mudanças incompletas. Ganhos, como a redução entre 2000 e 2011 dos homicídios em São Paulo, tendem a perder força, na medida em que não há normas técnicas, regras de conduta ou padrões capazes de modificar culturas organizacionais ainda baseadas na defesa do Estado e não da sociedade.