“Every police officer dealing with the criminalization of drug sales quickly arrives at the conclusion that they are facing a Sisyphean task.”
Hildebrando Ribeiro Saraiva, Jr. is a detective inspector at the 18th police station of the city of Rio de Janeiro. He has been an officer of the Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (the civil police of the state of Rio de Janeiro) since 2002, and has worked as a detective inspector at several police stations in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In 2008, he created a program for the education of police officers, called Projeto QSL, which was partly adopted by the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police Academy.
In 2009, Hildebrando attended a conference on drug policy and public health where he learned about the movement to change drug policy from a criminal justice approach to a public-health approach. It struck a chord with him. “Every police officer dealing with the criminalization of drug sales quickly arrives at the conclusion that they are facing a Sisyphean task,” he explains. “Regardless of the size of the apprehension of drugs and weapons or the number of people arrested on any specific day, drug trade goes unabated the very next day and your work of ‘stopping crime’ never comes to an end. The stone returns to the bottom of the mountain.”
LEAP appealed to Hildebrando because it seeks to remove the burden of the drug trade from the backs of the poor and addicted and instead improve safety and health overall. “I believe this effort can be fought on two fronts,” he says. “First, denounce police violence and the unequal enforcement of the law, and second, enable democratic activism in defense of freedom of expression and efforts for legislative change. I believe that another world is possible.”
Hildebrando holds a technical degree in Hospital Administration at the Joaquim Venâncio Polytechnic School of Health and is completing the last year of a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at the Philosophy and Social Sciences Institute of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.