RIO DE JANEIRO Ė An elite police unit tasked with quelling riots and rebellions in Brazilís prison system is credited with drastically reducing the number of these violent incidents in the nationís 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.
ďAt 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,Ē Julio Cesar da Cruz Freitas, the groupís 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 GITís headquarters are located inside the 29-unit Gericino penitentiary complex, which is situated in western Rio de Janeiroís Bangu neighborhood and is Latin Americaís largest.
ďThe Intervention Group was exclusively created to resolve (situations) when the prison guards are unable to. When thereís a rebellion or a riot, the GIT goes in to restore order,Ē Freitas said, adding that he was proud his group had won the respect and trust of inmates.
ďOver 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 wonít face any type of reprisal. Frequently, the GITís mere physical presence is enough to bring an end any rebellion or riot,Ē 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.