Lessons from Brazil – The police

I don´t care what anyone says, the Brazilian police force is the best police force in the whole wide world. Yes, there is corruption, bad cops, killer cops but most of them are incredibly kind, hard-working people who put their lives on the line for almost nothing. The police in Brazil gets almost nothing in return for their hard work and that does not stop them from trying to become better. Investments in security are mostly pre-election and they have the basics, but they don´t get any special treatment for being police officers.

In Argentina, which is supposed to be more “developed” or “chic” as the Brazilians say, have a depressingly corrupt police force full of people who cannot get jobs anywhere else, are less educated than anyone else and are only provided with used uniforms, old guns and cars and deficient training.

EVERY time you are pulled over by a traffic warden or the police in Argentina, you are indirectly asked for money to be “let off”. This is incredibly rare in Brazil.

On the other hand, those same traffic wardens are REALLY efficient BECAUSE they get money from people. You make one mistake and they are on you like flies. In Brazil, specially in the small towns like the one I live in, the traffic police (or military police) is really lax. They seldom stop you and witness all types of bad activity, like red light and stop sign hopping, drunk drivers, you name it. There are exceptions, of course, like in the motorways, where the police (policia rodoviaria) is less tolerant.

I feel sorry for the police in Brazil who are accused of violating human rights, torturing or even killing people. I am all for human rights and some police officers are cruel or worse than the criminals, but when a town is invaded by crack dealers and addicts who kill you for 3 reales, the police are forced to adapt and they really make a difference. Most international organization who complain about the police in Brazil have no idea how some people live here. They don´t see the Gaza-strip type neighbourhoods or even cities there are here and how crime affects and destroys the lives of citizens. Sometimes, it´s just war and the police are forced to become soldiers. And they do it without complaining. I have witnessed this so many times in the North-east, a true no-man´s land where a city of 80,000 is engulfed in the crack epidemic with all the consequent violence and drug-related deaths and a small group of officers who have to deal with it, with no external help.

Sigh…. so my heart-felt gratitude goes to the (good) police in Brazil.


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