A friend recently posted the following article about the dangers of being a poor, Brazilian police officer:
The status of a police officer is very different in Brazil than it is in the U.S. In the States, police officers are most often regarded as heroes. The same goes for fireman. While Brazilians may not relate to this, many children in the States, at least in past generations, have dreamed of being policemen and firemen when they grew up. Police officers in Brazil are often lower-class citizens and receive very little respect.
I have a personal fondness for these professions. Not only do I have a cousin who risked his life for a couple decades on the Chicago police force, but when my husband had a heart-attack, it was the local firemen that saved him (no fire in sight). Sadly, here in Brazil, at least in Sao Paulo and Rio, it seems that very little incentive exists for those in these roles to take the risks necessary to protect the public. In fact, there may be more incentives in the other direction, like bribery or saving one’s own life from organized crime.
One factor that may maintain the police officer status in the U.S. is television programming. Some of the best television dramas in America depict police officers as heroes, such as Law & Order, N.Y.P.D. Blue, and Miami Vice, to name just a few. The admiration of officers is part of our culture. And while some feel there isn’t enough of an investment in salaries for these citizens, they most often pull in at least a middle class income.
Perhaps Globo, or some experienced U.S. production companies looking to capitalize on the growing interest in Brazil, should consider some Brazilian programming that promotes these civil servants as crime-fighting heroes. Many such shows were award-winning cash cows in the States – why not here? And maybe that would drive a bit more investment in getting the best of the crowd to protect the people.