Rio police show new face in slums

Sunday, January 18, 2009

RIO DE JANEIRO: Bouncing a small boy on her knee and listening attentively to residents’ complaints, Capt Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo is the new face of policing in Rio de Janeiro.“The police are entering houses that have doors open with their guns pointed,” complained Marcelo Andrade, a 38-year-old resident of the Santa Marta slum.“They aren’t invading houses, but they need to check when there’s an open door,” de Oliveira replied, dark hair tied back above her bullet-proof vest. “When you have something new there will be changes for the better and worse.”In their long, bloody battle to take back control of hundreds of slums from drug gangs, Rio’s police are trying a new tactic – staying in place and talking to people.After invading this community of about 10,000 people in November and driving out the Red Command drug gang, the police surprised residents by staying, starting an experiment they plan to expand to other slums scarred by gang warfare and the usual police tactic of “invade, shoot, and leave.”


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