Community Policing Programs in Brazil

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Melissa DE MATTOS PIMENTA, Sociology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Alex NICHE TEIXEIRA, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Rochele FACHINETTO, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
In recent years, the Brazilian public security sector has faced an alarming rise of crime rates, especially homicide, robbery, smuggling and drug trafficking, resulting in a generalized sense of insecurity in most of the country’s great cities. The ineffectiveness of police efforts in order to prevent, repress and reduce violent crime rates have inflated the debate over the capacity of public security forces, mainly the civilian (judiciary) and military (patrol) police, to establish social control. In addition to this scenario, continuing violation of human rights by police officers in action have put the nation’s police forces among the top most lethal corporations in the world. Corruption, power abuse a repression towards civilians have pressed authorities to rethink current policing models and traditional forms of action, stimulating the search for alternatives. Community policing is considered an efficient mean to overcome many problems in traditional policing practices, such as the limitations of standard ostensive car patrolling in preventing crime, the widely known lack of confidence of citizens towards police officers that work on the streets, and the never-ending insufficiency of human resources to manage post-crime occurrences.

Over the past two decades, police divisions from all states in Brazil have adopted community-policing programs as part of the effort to change the public image and the relationship of police forces with citizens. Focusing on training and practices, in nine different states, this research aimed to understand how community-policing programs have been introduced, assimilated and adapted in Brazil. Although the philosophy of community police is now widely disseminated, it is still considered a public policy best suited for regaining social control in socially vulnerable urban areas most exposed to violent crime rates. Moreover, several obstacles in the way police forces are organized and managed in Brazil make it extremely difficult to produce successful results.