A school has become the headquarters of Rio De Janeiro’s latest experiment in urban policing, says the Washington Post. The police have regularly launched large operations in Brazil’s favelas, or slums, in their battle against drug gangs. authorities say the occupation of Santa Marta, a small, contained neighborhood, is part of a new approach, a pilot project for the future of crime fighting in this violent city.
Brazilian police officers are attempting counterinsurgency tactics similar to those used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq — setting up small bases occupied around the clock inside violent neighborhoods, developing intelligence by living among their adversaries, and using government funds to rebuild broken areas and generate goodwill. “Santa Marta is like a laboratory for policing a conflict area,” said Antônio Roberto Cesário de Sá of the office of the public security secretary of Rio de Janeiro. “The idea is to rescue a territory that until now has belonged to a drug-dealing gang.” The heavy police presence in peacetime in a major city has drawn criticism from those who say it is an abuse of power and curtails residents’ freedom. Police have banned motorcycle-taxis, which often are used for distributing drugs. Residents say police have broken in doors and roughed people up, shut down dance parties, cut off illegal TV and Internet connections, and imposed de facto curfews.