Asserting the Presence of the State, One Step at a Time: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2008-2010


Beginning in the late 1980s, Rio de Janeiro suffered increasing urban violence as the drug trade moved south from the Caribbean.  The favelas, shantytowns and slums on the hillsides surrounding Brazil's second-largest city, saw a rise in both inter-gang violence and clashes between police and drug traffickers.  Innocent bystanders often died in the crossfire.  In 2007, working with the support of the governor, the state's secretary for public security, José Mariano Beltrame, and his colleagues tried a new approach.  Instead of repeated military-style interventions to oust the traffickers, Beltrame created the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora  (UPP, or Peace Police Unit), to provide a continuous police presence and help extend the reach of the government into contested areas.  Beltrame's team rolled out the program on a pilot basis and identified communities where early success would boost the image of the government in the eyes of Rio's population.  This case study outlines the development of the new approach, the problems encountered in implementation, and some of the results from the pilot program's opening months. 

Richard Bennet drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August and September 2010. Case published December 2010.

Associated Interview(s):  Silvia Ramos, Luiz Eduardo Soares

community policing
extension of services to insecure areas
internal accountability
crime & violence
Focus Area(s)
Accountable Policing
City Management
Getting the News Out/Managing Expectations
Critical Tasks
Building citizen support
Community policing
Internal accountability
Making services accessible
Core Challenge
Dispute resolution (compliance)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Richard Bennet