Being a Brazilian Policeman Sucks
On May 12, 2006, a wave of violence was sparked in Sao Paulo. Over the span of four days the city saw 299 attacks against public establishments (police stations, justice forums, buses), over 20 uprisings in prisons, and just under 150 murders. It was a major buzzkill for anyone living in the city. The official reasoning behind the violence was that seven main leaders of the criminal organization PCC were being moved to maximum security prisons, where it would be harder for them to exercise their influence on the outside crime world. The PCC and the Sao Paulo police department have been at war ever since.
Six years in, and 2012 saw the death of at least a hundred police officers before November. The number of criminal and civilian deaths also rose, while a curfew was placed on certain favelas and particularly dangerous areas of the city, both by the state and the PCC. We tracked down a policeman—who wanted to remain anonymous, because he’s not insane—who gave us a testimony that makes A Prophet sound like a lullaby.
The situation we’re experiencing as police officers at the moment is worse than ever. In 2006, we knew who the enemy was. We had all sorts of communication media at our disposal, as well as the possibility for backup in the form of helicopters or the ROTA (Rondas Ostensivas Tobias de Aguiar, or Ostensive Rounds—the most violent of the Brazilian special forces). It’s different these days. Keeping your family away from danger is a real and basic concern.
The largest violent outbreak yet happened in September. At first, we’d have one death every week, or one every two weeks, then it became a daily occurence. A police officer would die every night. We’d known something was going on since August, but the governor was quick to dismiss the deaths as unrelated events, as did the Department of Public Security, while officials completely denied the attacks.