Police Chief, 18th Police Station of the State of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“Legalizing and regulating is the only way to develop rational public policies for psychoactive substances.”
Orlando Zaccone is a chief of police in Rio de Janeiro. Since 1999, he has worked as a police chief at several police departments. He has also coordinated the department that controls the jails under the administration of the civil police department of the state of Rio de Janeiro. In addition, he is Professor of Criminology at Rio de Janeiro Civil Police Academy.
Orlando explains his change of heart: “I started to see and understand the selective nature of drug criminalization, which affects only the most vulnerable sectors of the population, through my work as a police chief. In Brazil, those that are identified as the drug dealers are especially the retailers that sell illicit drugs in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Illicit drug business assures huge profits for those who are at the top of the market -- especially those involved in money laundering -- but these ones are not reached by law enforcement. The ‘war on drugs’ focuses only on those who are at the end of the supply chain. In the end, the police are used as an instrument of political power.”
Once he realized that the “war on drugs” has not had any effect of reducing drug consumption and that even worse, prohibition nourishes the growth of violence, Orlando began to consider alternatives. “I understood that instead of insisting on the failed and harmful criminal approach, we should move to treat drugs as a public health issue,” he says. “Legalization is the only way to develop rational public policies, through the regulation of the production, the supply and the consumption of all psychoactive substances. In contrast, decriminalizing possession and use only benefits criminal gangs with little or no benefit for society."