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Rio | Protesters Demand Openness of Police IDs


Source: O Globo

Police officers were identified with labels in large letters and numbers on their bulletproof vests in order to facilitate complaints of abuse to the ombudsman. OAB members applaud initiative.

July 25, 2013 | 20h 08

Felipe Werneck – Agência Estado

RIO – The Rio de Janeiro mililtar police — PMERJ — today inaugurated a new approach to the handling of protestors during a protest carried out on the street where state governor Sérgio Cabral resides, in Leblon, Southern Zone, Rio. Along with the heavily armored caveirão, the water cannon — nicknamed the “burucutu — and the shock troop, installed behind a barricade of metal bars on Aristides Espínola street, 1,000 uniformed policemen identified as such in large letters and numbers on their vests have been added to the scheme of policing the crowd.

The police circulate in groups among the protestors, searching the backpacks of some. It is an approach that has earned praise even from attorneys who have observed the protests since the beginning.  “Starting today, we will act inside the crowds in order to prevent crimes and to home in on groups using the protests as an opportunity to commit crimes,” said detachment commander Lt. Col. Mauro Andrade. “”The Shock Battalion has been unable to screen crowd members in this way during earlier protests,” he added.

The colonel  says that members of the new group normally work stadium crowds and are specialized in physical restraint.  “We could see there was this missing element and we are trying to adapt.” Regarding the lack of identification of police by name, Andrade said “this is not ready today, but it will be.”

Police will often remove their name tag before wading into a violent rumble in the streets to avoid accountability. We have seen this often ourselves. .

Protestors are now calling for the wearing of name tags in addition to the encoded IDs accessible only by police commanders in the field.

The alphanumeric ID of the officers is controlled by the troop commander and any citizen can register a complaint with the ombudsman.  “This is the first time ever that the PM is acting with intelligence and respect and without gratuitous violence,” said attoreny Priscila Pedrosa Trisco, of the group Habeas Corpus-RJ, whose monitoring of the protests is supported by the OAB — the Order of Brazilian Attorneys.

With the cold, rainy weather in Rio, the protest was not as well attended as previous ones.  As of 7:30 p.m, about 250 persons gathered and began marching in the streets.  Cabral was the principal topic once more. In today’s CNI/Ibope poll, Cabral is approved 12% of the electorate.

With 250 protestors and 1,000 cops on hand, the celebration has more PR than PM to it.

Speaking of which,, the PM are still combing through video and photography in an attempt to settle rumors — the extensive coverage by the New York Times notwithstanding — of friendly fire by plainclothes infiltrators.

That is a fine photograph, an essay in its own right on the Brazilian Zeitgeist.