A new survey by Fogo Cruzado reveals the numbers behind a practice of justice within the police that resulted in operations with the highest lethality rates in Rio de Janeiro. The largest massacre recorded in the state’s history, in May 2021, in Jacarezinho, in the north zone, is an example of a “revenge operation” that ended with 27 deaths.
The “Lethal State” mapping shows that police forces are responsible for, on average, three massacres per month in the metropolitan region of Rio. Of the total, 18 occurred after a police officer was killed or injured, leaving 117 dead. One of the main characteristics of this type of action is the lethality, being 70% higher than a police massacre in which no officer was shot.
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Researcher Maria Isabel Couto, Director of Data and Transparency at Instituto Fogo Cruzado, explains that “revenge operations” happen as retaliation. “This way of acting by the police brings even more fear and trauma to the population, especially those who live in the most vulnerable regions, who should have the image of a protector and not an executioner in security agents”, she states.
The Fogo Cruzado Institute considers a case in which three or more people are killed to be a massacre. In the last seven years, 283 police operations ended with 1,137 civilian deaths. The survey has an interactive map where it is possible to consult data on each massacre filtering by location, neighborhood, municipality, region, number of deaths, police units involved, among others.
“Data like these are important because they show that in addition to not solving the problem of public security, which has been treated with denial for years, they also bring a trail of deaths and trauma to the population”, adds Maria Isabel.
In addition to stating that the State acts in a denialist manner in relation to public security data, Maria Isabel Couto draws attention to the need to find more effective ways of controlling police activity with transparent disclosure of positive and negative results.
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“Rio de Janeiro does not have a public safety plan based on data, on evidence, that prioritizes the preservation of the population’s lives. Instead, what we have is a police focused on confrontation and deaths, often tacitly authorized to promote justice, instead of justice. It is already more than evident that we are no longer safe this way”, says the researcher.
Inefficient and unconstitutional
Contrary to good public security practices, lack of control and killing characterize police operations in the history of Rio de Janeiro.
Complexo do Salgueiro, a group of favelas in São Gonçalo, was the location with the most massacres recorded since 2016. There alone, 14 police massacres resulted in 66 deaths. In the north of the capital there were 73 cases that left 373 people dead. In Baixada Fluminense, 72 cases were mapped, with 255 deaths.
“This is an example of one of the longest-lasting strategies that make up Rio’s security policy, despite all the clear signs of its inefficiency and unconstitutionality. It is unacceptable that corporations’ tactics for combating violence are to bring more violence to the population. With the re-creation of the Secretariat (of State for Security), we hope that numbers like this will no longer exist”, comments Maria Isabel Couto.
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The announcement of the re-creation of the State Security Secretariat by governor Claudio Castro (PL), which was abolished in 2019, took place last Monday (27), the day after the murder of military police officer Vaneza Lobão, aged 31, at the door of house in Santa Cruz, west of the city. Lobão worked in a sector that investigated militiamen and criminals at the 8th Military Judiciary Police Station (DPJM), subordinate to the General Inspectorate of the Military Police. The suspicion is that the crime was ordered by the militia.
In the opinion of the researcher and director of Fogo Cruzado, however, simply recreating the Secretariat or a new body is not enough to break “the barrier of secrecy that prevails today” in public security.
Source: BdF Rio de Janeiro
Editing: Jaqueline Deister