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By Lise Alves, Senior contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil registered more than 61,000 violent deaths in 2016, a growth of 3.8 percent compared to 2015, and the highest level in the country’s history, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum’s yearbook. Some of the most disturbing data on the report is the increase, by 25.8 percent, of violent deaths caused by police officers.

Brazil,Violent deaths, including those of police officers, increased by 3.8 percent in 2016,
Violent deaths, including those of police officers, increased by 3.8 percent in 2016, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agencia Brasil.

According to the survey, there were 4,200 homicides by military and civilian police last year. “We are accepting police lethality in Brazil,” professor Rafael Alcadipani, at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) told news outlet G1. “Society is asking (police) to kill and commandos are accepting the request from society,” he said.

Alcadipani’s opinion is in line with that of the president of the National Association of Soldiers, Corporal Elisandro Lotin. “For society today, ‘good criminal is a dead criminal’,” said Lotin during the press conference to release the study.

“Police officers internalize these feelings. In his head, he is doing the right thing,” concludes Lotin.

For the first time, the annual report also reveals data on femicide (murder of a woman because of her gender) and missing persons. Data shows that 4,657 women were murdered last year, which means, on average, that a woman is killed every two hours in Brazil. Of those, however, only 533 cases were registered as femicide.

As for the number of missing persons, the yearbook shows that between 2007 and 2016, 639,000 people disappeared nationwide, an average of eight people per hour.

And despite the growing number of violent deaths, federal, state and local governments reduced their spending on public safety policies by 2.6 percent last year, with the largest reduction coming from the federal government, -10.3 percent.

“The drop in spending draws attention. It seems that the use of the National Force is today the only strategy used by the federal government in the area of security. But it has more of a media effect than a practical one,” sociologist and member of the Forum, Arthur Trindade Maranhão Costa, told reporters.

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