Brazil mayor under fire after linking police to corruption

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella was under fire Wednesday after accusing local police of corruption and calling the city he runs “a complete mess.”

Crivella’s comments were recorded during a meeting with public servants and published in Wednesday’s edition of Brazil’s O Globo newspaper.

The former evangelical pastor said Rio policemen want to be as rich as corrupt politicians and accept hush money from drug dealers.

“When the politician steals and gets rich, the commander of the (police) battalion wants to get rich too. The colonel wants to get rich. The lieutenant, the sergeant want to get rich. Then they climb the hills to get bribes,” Crivella said, linking those bribes to drug dealing.

The mayor also described the tram system built for the 2016 Olympic Games as “that piece of junk.”

Rio police said in a statement that Crivella’s comments offend 45,000 policemen.

“It is regrettable and unbelievable that the mayor of a city with so many serious problems to solve is capable of giving such absurd statements,” the Rio police statement said.

Rio Gov. Wilson Witzel said in a video that “the police deserve respect,” without naming Crivella.

Crivella said his statements were taken out of context.

“There has not been a single attack to the institution of police, but to a minority of bad professionals that stained the image” of the force, he said.

Crivella is expected to run for re-election next year.