By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Data released by Rio de Janeiro’s Instituto de Segurança Publica – ISP (Public Security Institute) shows that February of 2017 was one of the most violent months in the state’s history, with violent death rates increasing by 28.1 percent and vehicle thefts by 40.3 percent in relation to February of 2016.
In a press statement released on Tuesday night, the ISP reiterates that it has as a priority ‘the preservation of life, peaceful coexistence and reduction of crime rates in the state’.
The numbers also show that February of this year was also violent when it came to confrontation with police forces. The number of homicides resulting from police action in Rio de Janeiro increased by 71 percent during the month compared to February of last year, with a total of 84 deaths recorded in the month from police action.
The report shows that violent crimes in the state rose from 481 victims in February of 2016 to 616 victims in February of this year, while car thefts increased from 3.056 to 4,287 in the same comparison base.
While thefts and violent deaths increased, the number of arrests and the number of guns apprehended by police decreased. ISP data shows that there was a reduction by 25.9 percent of gun apprehensions during the month.
The data also reveal that police officers made 33.2 percent less arrests in February of 2017 when it came to adults and over 51 percent less arrest when it came to minors when compared to the same time last year.
Jim Kappeler, a long time Rio resident originally from the U.S. shares “I have been here over forty years and have seen a lot of change in security.”
He explains, “In the seventies we did not need security on the beach and elsewhere in Rio compared to today. You could walk up to the front door of most buildings […] there was not such concern about security.”
Julia Michaels, another American expatriate, author and the journalist behind Rio Real Blog lives in Ipanema and told The Rio Times that the sense of a lack in security on the in Rio corresponds with the new crime statistics.
She explains, “Public safety is mainly the responsibility of the Rio state government, which is broke. The pacification program has melted down. Police officers aren’t being paid in full or on time. Public safety policy appears to have reverted to the chaos of pre-pacification days, with police units engaging in shootouts with supposed ‘bandidos’ across the metro region.”
Michaels adds, “And I hear reports that police have been taking things into their own hands. This is all very dangerous. […] The worst security is in peripheral areas, such as favelas. But this spills over into the formal city.”