HomeNewsBriefRecord Killings of Rio Police Are Part of Institutional Failure
BRIEF

Record Killings of Rio Police Are Part of Institutional Failure

BRAZIL / 11 APR 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A record number of police have been killed in Brazil's state of Rio de Janeiro so far in 2017, in a seeming illustration of the police's poor training and how they have become a central actor in the battle over that state's lucrative criminal markets. 

Fifty-one police officers have been killed during the first four months of this year in Rio de Janeiro, the highest number recorded in the first four months of a year since these statistics started being recorded 23 years ago, Globo reported

If this rate continues, the number of police officers killed is set to surpass last year's: 147 killed of the over 46,000 police officers. In comparison, the report found that 54 of the more than 89,000 total police officers on patrol in the state of São Paulo were killed last year. 

According to the report, the majority of these cases are concentrated in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, the poorest neighborhoods in the city and also where a number of the state's criminal groups operate. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

These figures help to illustrate an institutional failure to protect police, and they highlight the systematic shortcomings in training and the use of lethal force, which has made Brazil's police a major actor in the violence that plagues this country. Some would argue that it starts with a culture of physical and psychological torture in Brazil's military police training, which has also directly impacted the way in which these officers serve society and in turn are treated by society. 

The result is a huge amount of lethal violence dispensed by police and absorbed by them as well. According to research from Brazil's Institute for Public Security (Instituto de Segurança Pública - ISP), between January 2016 and February 2017, killings by police generally increased, reaching a peak of 105 killings in December 2016.  

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

In a 2016 academic study on state and criminal violence in Latin America, José Miguel Cruz, a political science professor at Florida International University, argued that state institutions are a "fundamental actor in today's criminal violence," citing the large number of people killed by security forces in Brazil as an example.

While at times the use of lethal force by police officers is warranted, killings carried out by Brazil's police forces are often unlawful. Last month, a video surfaced that showed police in Rio de Janeiro executing two men lying on the ground.  

Police are also at times themselves involved in organized crime activities. Just this week, a former military police officer was arrested and accused of being the supposed leader of a criminal organization operating with help from Brazil's Red Command (Comando Vermelho), the country's oldest criminal group. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 6 NOV 2015

The number of women prisoners in Brazil is skyrocketing, exemplifying how punitive drug policies have heavily impacted women, at the…

BRAZIL / 30 SEP 2011

The resignation of Rio de Janeiro's police chief in the wake of the murder of a judge, allegedly carried out…

BRAZIL / 8 DEC 2010

InSight Crime translates and reprints parts of an interview Argentina's Página 12 did recently with Tarso Genro, the governor…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.