Self-Legitimacy and the Military Police in the State of Sao Paulo – Brazil

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Viviane CUBAS, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil
Frederico Castelo BRANCO, Núcleo de Estudos da Violência, Brazil
International researchers show that the interactions among police and citizens are expected to affect the legitimacy of police institution. In this process, procedural justice judgments regarding officer’s authority play a central role: if officers interact with public in a procedurally fair way, citizens become more likely to accept police decisions and cooperate with the police. Recently, the debate over the legitimacy of the police has broadened the perspective of citizens and have been focused on the perspectives of ‘self-legitimacy’ or ‘internal legitimacy’, defined as the level of confidence that an officer has about his or her own legitimacy—feeling worthy or not worthy of his or her authority. It is an ongoing process of dialogue between police and the population as well as within the police organization itself. This approach may help to identify the reasons why authorities mobilize their political power, as well as their internal beliefs in their moral right to exercise such authority. In Brazil, great expectations for the development of democracy have not been fulfilled mainly in the public security field. The democratic Constitution of 1988 established the policing model during the return to democracy, but little changed polices of the dictatorship, it maintained two police forces which divide the activities, one of them being militarized. The Military Police is responsible for patrolling the streets, organized as a military-based rank structure, with a very strict hierarchy divided in two ranks, each one with different process of selection and training. Based on complaints registered by military police officers in Police Ombudsman of the state of São Paulo, the current paper discusses practices and procedures that expose internal models of authority, and problems and weaknesses of the institution which lead to questions about democratic policing and self-legitimacy in a militarized structure.