A broken mirror reflects a masked soldier from Rio's Military police during an operation in Morro da Babilônia, a favela located next to Copacabana beach. Many police choose to work masked to minimize the threat of being recognized when off duty. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)

A broken mirror reflects a masked soldier from Rio's Military police during an operation in Morro da Babilônia, a favela located next to Copacabana beach. Many police choose to work masked to minimize the threat of being recognized when off duty. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)

 The two armed men entered the barbershop well Anderson Azevedo Galvao was in the middle of a haircut. According to witnesses, one of the criminals recognized Galvao as a member of Rio’s Military Police. Galvao asked them to stay calm. They shot him five times.

Galvao died before reaching Barra’s Lorenco Jorge hospital.

The risk of being recognized off duty is something that has long been ingrained into the behavior of Rio’s cops. Many military police soldiers will cover their faces during operations to mask their identities, and most police choose to stay armed when off-duty to have the means to defend themselves should they be recognized.

"I always carry my gun with me or have it in reach. My kid has learned not to mess with it. But it’s become normal for him to see me always armed,” says a Sergeant in the 18º police battalion, who – due to regulations – asked not to have his name revealed.

The vast majority of police killed in Rio are off duty according to an investigation conducted last year by Brazilian news site Extra. In 2018, of 92 military police killed, 68 were off-duty, of those, 28 were killed after being recognized as police.

However, the practice of criminals killing off-duty cops has resulted in many member's of Rio's security forces to take a morbidly proactive approach when apprehending lawbreakers. “Many PM’s [military police] won’t want to take the traffickers in. The risk is too high that they will come back for you. The courts let them go so quickly some police think it’s better just to end it there,” said the sergeant.

Rio’s governor Wilson Witzel said at Galvao’s funeral that the state has already discovered the identities of his killers and promised that they would be brought to justice. “Once again the state of Rio says goodbye to one of its heroes. Officer Galvao lost his life defending us all,” Witzel told press at the interment.

Human right's defenders warn that often in the search for the killers police can become overly aggressive.

A helicopter from the Civil Police drops flowers on the funeral of Delegado Fabio Monteiro, a police officer executed by criminals. Residents of Jacarezinho say that police used the helicopter to shoot indiscriminately into the community as retaliation. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)

A helicopter from the Civil Police drops flowers on the funeral of Delegado Fabio Monteiro, a police officer executed by criminals. Residents of Jacarezinho say that police used the helicopter to shoot indiscriminately into the community as retaliation. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)

Early last year community residents of Jacarezinho said that a helicopter shot indiscriminately into the community during the search for the killers of Civil Police Delegado Fabio Monteiro. The residents said that the operations were a form of collective retaliation after police found the Delegado's body in the community.

During an operation in Cidade de Deus related to the hunt for Galvao's killers, a man was shot by military police in the back. Family member's of the man told the Rio Times that the police rushed him to the hospital after ascertaining he was not a criminal. Another man, who police say was involved in drug trafficking, was shot and killed during the same operation.

In an Instagram post made shortly before his death, Galvao wrote about the dangers faced during his work commanding the UPP in Lins. He stated he was most proud of the fact that despite many violent confrontations, no police officer was injured in the two years which he commanded the unit.

Galvao served 13 years in Rio's Military Police and is survived by his young son.

Soldier's from a special operations police unit, the Choque, leave Cidade de Deus following an operation related to the search for the killers of Military Police Captain Anderson Azevedo Galvao. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)

Soldier's from a special operations police unit, the Choque, leave Cidade de Deus following an operation related to the search for the killers of Military Police Captain Anderson Azevedo Galvao. (Photo C.H. Gardiner)