By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Today, June 1st, the city of Rio de Janeiro received some welcomed positive news regarding crime as government officials announced that in Flamengo, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Meier, crime has dropped as much as eighty percent in some areas. Officials are crediting the decrease to the recent security program, Operação Segurança Presente (Operation Security Today).
Operação Segurança Presente is an extension of a 2014 joint initiative between the state government and the Federation of Commerce of Rio de Janeiro (Fecomércio). That program, Operaçao Lapa Presente, was designed to increase security in Lapa and was considered a success.
Police officers in the program receive special training on respecting civilian rights. To ensure transparency, they work with special jackets and striped ID, and their actions are filmed, and monitored by GPS. In December 2015, the program was extended to cover the neighborhoods of Flamengo, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, and Méier.
Since the program’s start, the initial statistics show crime in those neighborhoods has seen a precipitous drop in certain key categories. In Flamengo, there was a 48 percent drop in street theft, while in Meier, robbery and theft have declined up to 50 percent compared to last year.
The figures show Lagoa having the biggest reduction overall, with robbery and theft declining 83 percent compared to last year. “We are getting closer to those who live in the vicinity of Lagoa. We have had no thefts of bikes or commercial property since the beginning of our operation,” said operation coordinator, Captain Henry Miranda.
In addition, since the program’s inception, police have apprehended more than one hundred fugitives, made some 1,400 arrests, and sheltered almost four hundred homeless.
The signs of Operação Segurança Presente’s positive impact is welcome news as just recently, on May 19th, the Public Security Institute (ISP) released their state security crime report for the month of April that showed an alarming 38.9 percent increase in homicides in Rio de Janeiro state for April 2016 compared to last year.