But the first wide-ranging examination of the impact of police pacification reveals that though it has significantly reduced violence in and around UPP communities, the project that lies at the core of Rio’s remarkable turnaround needs extensive reform itself.
Fortunately, the police are listening. Study coordinator Ignacio Cano, with a long history of research in the area of public security and human rights, is now in dialogue with the men and women in uniform. Hopefully, they’re poring over his ‘Os donos do morrro’: uma avaliação exploratória do impacto das unidades de polícia pacificadora (UPPs) no Rio de Janeiro ['The owners of the hill': an exploratory impact evaluation of the police pacification units].
“Just a decade ago, whether in training or research, the police in general wanted little to do with the academic community and flatly rejected or refused to cooperate with researchers,” observes Liz Leeds, founder of the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety and creator of the Democratic Policing Initiative when she was a Ford Foundation program officer in Rio, in the early 2000s. ”Today that cooperation is not only possible but frequently sought after by the police,” continues Ms. Leeds. ”Of course, the police are not always happy with the results of independent research when the conclusions are negative. It is a process that involves the gradual break-down of long-held mutual mistrust and prejudice between the two communities”.