Being a Cop: Perceptions of Police Officers in Sao Paulo

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Viviane CUBAS, Center for the Study of Violence NEV/USP, Brazil
Renato ALVES, Center for the Study of Violence NEV/USP, Brazil
André OLIVEIRA, Center for the Study of Violence NEV/USP, Brazil
In Brazil, the return to democracy (mid-1980s) did not break with the police model adopted during the dictatorship. Two police forces divide the activities, one of them being militarized: the Civil Police responsible for registering crimes and investigation; and the Military Police responsible for patrolling the streets. This paper presents an analysis of a survey of military and civil police officers conducted in 2016 in São Paulo, comparing the perceptions of officers from these two institutions. The survey explored officers’ view of their self-legitimacy - the level of confidence that a public oficial has about his or her own legitimacy, feeling worthy or not worthy of his or her authority. In this regards, we examinaded issues such internal relations, between superiors and subordinates, between peers, and between subordinates and the institution as a whole; and aspects related to their relationship with the public, compliance with the law, democracy and human rights. We could perceive that as police forces the two institutions are quite similar. In general, in both police forces they feel confident in using their authority as police officers, and also feel that they occupy a position of special importance to society. What differs them are the attitudes, norms, and values derived from being a member of a militarized or civil organization. Compared with civil police officers, the view of military police officers about their superiors are less positive. There seems to be greater submission to coercion on the part of military police, because they tend to being more afraid of punishment should they question their superiors. It is also possible to identify that the military police officers tend to present more conservative positions than the civil police. The implications of this results and police practice are discussed.