Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Porta-malas and guarda-people - São Paulo

Folha de São Paulo, Cotidiano, 4 November 2013

Call yourselves fortunate this morning because I am so flabbergasted by the Conseg (neighborhood security association) meeting last night that I cannot even post on it yet. Too much good stuff, it boggles the mind. For instance, it turns out my little neighborhood association of 250 houses  just funded the local police station to take a shooting practice course this past weekend. What? Yes, the neighborhood funded target shooting. Weird.

Anyway, peripherally, I am going to talk about the police (but very carefully now that I know they are expert marksmen). I was reading the paper yesterday morning when I noticed this photo in the upper right corner of the metro section. It is of a white-crime suspect (not a minor one either: "detouring" US$250 million in public funds into his pocket) being loaded into the trunk of a police SUV. Not the back seat, the trunk.

This is the second time I have seen this phenomenon of suspect in the trunk (sorry, "boot" for my Brit readers). The first time I saw it, there seemed to be a reason for putting the suspect in the trunk. While at a Palmeiras game a couple of months ago, my teen stepdaughter and I watched as a very drunk man was dumped out of the back of a police vehicle at the holding cell at the bottom of the toboggan seating section (don't ask). Literally dumped on the ground with 10 policemen standing around watching. I figured he was in the trunk because he was either feisty or prone to puking.

So, of course I have to seek the counsel of the BH*. Why don't suspects get to sit in the back seat? Is it normal to tote people around in the trunk? Yes, as it turns out. Because the police vehicle is the ROTA. Ready for the acronym explanation? Ronda Ostensivas Tobias de Aguiar...ROTA. They are, according to wikipedia, "used in the need to control civil unrest,  restoration of public order, tactical attack and defense of urban areas." It's special forces, folks. They are the bad ****** (whoo, that's a lot of stars but BH insists I stop swearing) of the police force. And what about this Tobias de Aguiar? Lemme see...why, he is the founder of the Military Police in 1831 when they were still known as the Imperial Guard. Cool. 

Here is a fully staffed ROTA vehicle:

Choque= Shock. Pronounced "Shocky" which makes it sound cute, but it's not. Photo credit: www.saopaulo.sp.gov.br
So, you can see that there are four police men in the car, one of them plainsclothes, but all of them armed and pretty crabby-looking. No room for bad guys in the car--only in the trunk. The trunk is known as a "porta-malas" in Portuguese, or "where to carry your suitcases". Perhaps it should be known as a "guarda-povo", or "where to put your people" if you drive a ROTA SUV. They are nice SUVs and more roomy since 2011 when they changed out Chevy Blazers for Toyota Hiluxes (I think these are Forerunners in the US?). I have no personal knowledge of the roominess.

Double checking the suspect cells in the back. Photo credit: www.saopaulo.sp.gov.br
And while I was looking around for info on ROTA, I also found this, a picture of their battalion headquarters (I have to say "battalion" just sounds so much more impressive than police station in the US--military stuff is cool). Nice place. Just don't want to visit it in the trunk.

ROTA Battalion headquarters. Photo credit: wikipedia
In my head, I start hearing the theme for COPS...Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?...but if you've ever seen these guys on the way to an "event", you will start singing it too. Usually all four windows rolled down, black berets on, killer glares in place, large automatic weapons on show. If that's not deterrence, I don't know what is.

*BH=Brazilian husband 


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