By Charlotte Markham, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Military Police will gain two EC145 model helicopters to help ensure the safety of athletes and tourists during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The newly acquired aircraft are adaptable to multiple functions such as aerial imagery, transport of intervention teams and rescue operations.
The helicopters, which are similar to those used at the London Olympics in 2012, have the most modern navigation software. The twin-engine helicopters provide more security for police operations and the population, and are capable of taking off in bad weather.
As part of the enhanced safety features the vehicles are equipped with an infrared searchlight, external speaker and camera with infrared and temperature sensor for night searches. The new helicopters can also be used in air medical rescue missions and can carry a litter each.
Colonel Luiz Perlingeiro, commander of the Reverse Split Aeromóvel (GAM) battalion, which is responsible for operations with the aircraft clarified how the technology on-board the aircraft will aid the police during the games.
“Our navigation software built for augmented reality, mix the images recorded by the camera in real time with online maps of the city streets. All material is transmitted to the Center for Integrated Command and Control (CICC), with the exact location of the event.” Adding that “more new aircraft generally indicate more security and less per hour flight costs.”
Security ahead of the 2016 Games, expected to bring 500,000 visitors to Rio, has become a major focus of both federal and state officials. Just last month, the Public Security Institute (ISP) released disturbing statistics that for April 2016, 471 homicides were reported in Rio de Janeiro state, a 38.9 percent increase over April 2015, which reported 339 homicides.
On the heels of the ISP’s negative report, last week, Rio de Janeiro city officials unveiled some positive developments related to the city’s Operação Segurança Presente (Operation Security Today) program. According to city officials, the program, which involves special uniforms and training for police officers, can be credited with an up to eighty percent drop in robberies and thefts in the neighborhoods of Flamengo, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Meier since December 2015.
Now, with the proximity of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the police have intensified training even further with the shock battalions, Special Operations Police (BOPE) and Dogs Action Battalion (BAC) with the aim to familiarize the agents, both humans and dogs, with the new aircraft and its equipment.
Besides the two EC145, three other GAM aircraft will be available during the Olympic Games which begin on August 5th.