November 18, 2017
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Elite police unit imposes order in Brazil's prisons

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 2 (efe-epa).- An elite police unit tasked with quelling riots and rebellions in Brazil's prison system is credited with drastically reducing the number of these violent incidents in the nation's penitentiaries.

The Tactical Intervention Group (GIT) was created in 2004 during a period of constant uprisings in the prisons of the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro and has helped to drastically curtail the problem.

"At the time the GIT was created, we had a really big history of rebellions, almost three per month. After the GIT was created, that number fell to two per year," Julio Cesar da Cruz Freitas, the group's chief, told EFE.

The last time the GIT was called into action was late last year, Freitas said, adding that since then the unit has dealt with minor problems.

The GIT's headquarters are located inside the 29-unit Gericino penitentiary complex, which is situated in western Rio de Janeiro's Bangu neighborhood and is Latin America's largest.

"The Intervention Group was exclusively created to resolve (situations) when the prison guards are unable to. When there's a rebellion or a riot, the GIT goes in to restore order," Freitas said, adding that he was proud his group had won the respect and trust of inmates.

"Over time, the GIT won the confidence of the regional Public Safety Secretariat and the prisoners because they know that when we arrive, as long as they surrender and turn themselves in, they won't face any type of reprisal. Frequently, the GIT's mere physical presence is enough to bring an end any rebellion or riot," he said.

As the only Brazilian police unit that specializes in prison riots, the GIT not only responds to uprisings in Rio but also is occasionally called into to quell violent incidents at penitentiaries in other states.

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