Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais

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Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais
BOPE Faca na Caveira.svg
"Faca na Caveira" (Portuguese for "Knife in the Skull"), BOPE logo and motto
Active 1978 - present
Country  Brazil
Allegiance Rio de Janeiro
Branch Military police
Type Special forces
Role Urban warfare
Size Around 400
Part of Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State
Motto "Faca na Caveira" (Knife in the Skull)
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant Colonel Wilman René Gonçalves Alonso

Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE; Portuguese: [bataˈʎɐ̃w dʒi opeɾaˈsõjs poliˈsjajs ispeˈsjajs]; English: Special Police Operations Battalion) is a special forces unit of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil.

Due to the nature of crime in favelas, BOPE units have extensive experience in urban warfare as well as progression in confined and restricted environments. It also utilizes equipment deemed more powerful than traditional civilian law enforcement.

History[edit]

The origins of BOPE date back to January 19, 1978, when the Special Operations Company Nucleus (in Portuguese: Núcleo da Companhia de Operações Especiais or NuCOE) was formed and placed under the command of the chief of staff for the state's Military Police.

In 1982 the company was moved to the Riot Control Battalion (Batalhão de Polícia de Choque), thus becoming part of that unit changing its name to Special Operations Company (Companhia de Operações Especiais or COE). In 1984 the name was changed once again to NuCOE and was, again, under the command of the chief of staff.

In 1988, the Special Operations Independent Company (Companhia Independente de Operações Especiais or CIOE) was created, with its jurisdiction spanning all over the State of Rio de Janeiro. It became a battalion on March 1, 1991.

BOPE is widely known for its portrayal in the 2007 Brazilian movie Elite Squad, and its 2010 sequel Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.

Significant roles[edit]

BOPE officers during a training exercise.
  • Providing additional security at special events
  • Break barricades constructed by drug dealers
  • Shoot to kill at any criminal threatening both civilian or member life
  • Exterminate drug trafficking criminal factions and all of its members
  • Extract police officers or civilians injured in confrontations and combats
  • Rescuing officers and citizens captured by criminals or endangered by gunfire
  • Serve high-risk arrest warrants
  • Hostage rescue
  • Stabilizing situations involving high-risk suicidal subjects
  • Suppress prison riots at any cause
  • Support civil police in combats of any kind
  • Providing superior assault firepower in certain situations
  • Armed patrols around the favelas
  • Special missions in swamps or mountainous terrains such as reconnaissance, planning and infiltration
  • Engage in combat serving state sovereignty
  • Crime suppression to minimum
  • Resolving high-risk situations with a minimum loss of life, injury, or property damage
  • Engage strongly armed criminal factions

Weapons and vehicles[edit]

The force has a fleet of armoured fighting vehicles, which are known as "Pacificador" ("Peacemaker"), or "Caveirão" ("Big Skull") and one UH-1 Huey.[1] These vehicles are used in operations in the slums (favelas) where BOPE face intense conflicts with heavily armed drug dealers. BOPE also operates a wheel loader in order to remove obstacles, barricades and street blockades.[2] BOPE soldiers are equipped with heavy armament:

In popular culture[edit]

Tropa de Elite[edit]

In 2006, the book Elite da Tropa was published. Written by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two BOPE officers, Major André Batista and Captain Rodrigo Pimentel, it provides a semi-fictional account of the daily routine of BOPE as well as some historical events, based on the experiences of the latter two. It describes BOPE as a "killing machine" and details an alleged aborted assassination attempt by some police officers on then-governor Leonel Brizola. The book was controversial at the time of release, and reportedly resulted in Batista being reprimanded and censured by the Military Police.[4] The book has been made into a movie, Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad), directed by José Padilha (the director of Bus 174), with a screenplay by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Bráulio Mantovani. In 2010 the movie gained a sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.

Criticism[edit]

A 2005 report on extra judicial executions by the New York University School of Law indicated that BOPE was involved in the deaths of 4 teenagers under the pretext that they were drug traffickers who were resisting arrest: "BOPE officers falsified the crime scene in order to incriminate the victims. Hoping this way to make them appear to be gang members. No weapon was found on any of the victims. None of them had any previous history of criminal activity."[5]

Amnesty International declared that "the police forces in Brazil adopt violent and repressive methods. These cause violations of fundamental rights of large parts of the population on a regular basis ",[6] and attributes a certain number of killed civilians to BOPE in particular. In March 2006, Amnesty International specifically condemned the use of vans with armoured plating, known as a Caveirão. It stated that deploying the vehicle aggressively, indiscriminately targeting whole communities, highlighted the ineffectiveness of excessive use of force.[7]

Other BOPEs[edit]

The Military Police of Alagoas and Santa Catarina also call their large tactical units BOPE, while the military police of the Federal District and the State of Piauí call theirs the Batalhão de Operações Especiais or BOE.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Campanha Contra o "Caveirão"". Justiça Global. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-19. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Bope recebe veículo para quebrar concreto e derrubar barricadas do tráfico". UOL. 12/08/2009. 
  3. ^ Lasterra, Juan Pablo (2008). "La Police Militaire Brésillienne en état de Guerre" (in French). Police Pro No. 11 (September 2008).
  4. ^ Mario Hugo Monken (2006-04-29). "Livro sobre elite da PM do Rio causou punição, diz autor". Folha de S. Paulo. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  5. ^ Report on extra judicial executions of the New York University School of Law: "BOPE officers falsified the crime scene to incriminate the victims in an attempt to make them seem like members of a drug trafficking gang. No weapons were found with the victims and none of them had a history of criminal activity."
  6. ^ «They come shooting…». Amnesty International, The maintenance of order at the heart of socially excluded populations, report of 2005.
  7. ^ "Brazil: Caveirão -- Rio’s real "bogeyman"". Amnesty International. 2006-03-13. Retrieved 2008-09-19. "“The caveirão has become a powerful symbol of the failings of public security policies in Rio de Janeiro. It typifies the police’s confrontational and divisive approach to Rio’s public security crisis,” said Marcelo Freixo of Global Justice at the launch of a campaign against the use of the Caveirão in Brazil’s favelas." 

External links[edit]