By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After a rash of robbery and crime in Rio’s beach neighborhoods of Zona Sul (South Zone) including Copacabana and Ipanema, authorities are announcing new police actions to improve security during the summer high-tourism season.
Last weekend the polícia militar (PM, or military police) and guarda municipal (GM, or municipal guard) reinforced their efforts with a mobile communications center set up in Aproador.
A government news source reported that the PM provides 850 men from different units to join Operação Praia (Beach Operation) on weekends. This force now has an important reinforcement, the mobile Integrated Center of Command and Control (CICC) truck.
Through it, the report says, the operation monitors the images of the cameras installed in the area. There are a total of 540 cameras around the city connected to the central command in Aproador, according to authorities.
Wagner Marques, major of the Battalion of Copacabana, explained, “It is very important to have this technology help our work. Having a point that concentrates the base and command for the area, besides the opportunity to see everything clearly, greatly facilitates the action of the police.”
The report said that the new prevention plan includes military police, municipal guards and representatives of the Municipal Department of Social Assistance. Most importantly, no serious incidents were recorded after the start of the new action over the weekend.
An American expatriate living in Rio for nearly eight years, Mike Smith, said, “Last Saturday I walked by, from Copacabana through Aproador, to past Posto 8 in Ipanema around 4PM, and I’ve never seen more police there. The beach looked relatively quiet, and I have to say it felt very safe. I hope they keep it up.”
The new police effort comes after local news outlet O Globo reported two weeks ago that their investigation only found 45 police in the span of five hours along the 51 kilometers of beaches stretching from Barra da Tijuca to Leme.
Aarti Waghela, a British expatriate living in Rio for close to ten years shared, “Personally, I have not noticed any more police around Copacabana. I had my phone snatched out of my hand [last Monday] at 7:30 PM near Copacabana Palace.” Adding, “Policing however, is only a short term solution. Education and opportunities for these youths needs to be radically improved.”
Other reports of crime and lack of security have been adding up, and now with the policiais civis (civil police) on strike, residents and businesses that rely on tourism are more concerned than ever.