By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The newly launched Operação Centro Presente (Operation Centro Today) program is helping to strengthen the security at the Olympic Boulevard area and revitalized Port Zone during the Olympic Games. Circulating in pairs or trios, on foot, by bicycle, car or motorcycle, hundreds of security agents are patrolling the streets and parks according to a government news source.
The effort is the result of a partnership between the State Government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Human Rights, with the City Hall and the Federation of Commerce of Rio de Janeiro (Fecomércio). “Culture and history are at the heart of the city. We arrived with Operação Centro Presente to provide peace and security to residents, so that everyone can enjoy the area,” said Secretary of Social Welfare, Paulo Melo.
From Praça Mauá to Candelária there are 162 agents patrolling per day, including active and reserve military police and military graduates. Between Candelária and Praça XV (Fifteen) there are now 204 professionals daily. All agents are monitored by GPS, and interactions with the public are recorded with cameras to ensure greater transparency.
According to state news sources, residents of Rio de Janeiro and the thousands of tourists who roam the areas of Praça Mauá and Praça XV approve of Operação Centro Presente. For Carioca (resident of Rio) Adriana da Cunha Melibeu, age 43, having a sense of security was makes her feel encouraged to bring her family there.
“I’m here for the second time and brought my daughter, brother and mother this time. I’m loving it. The revitalized area is beautiful and here we have the agents of the [security] operation, as well as military and Municipal Guard officers,” said the resident of Tijuca.
Sjur André Midthun, a Norwegian in Rio for the Games but long-time visitor of the city, spoke about the area’s revitalization and Olympic Boulevard, “It is very beautiful, and the difference from now and before is huge. The area now makes Centro more accessible and appealing to the public and I think it will also bring more tourists to Centro in the future.”
The additional security program is an extension of Operação Segurança Presente (Operation Security Today), which first was implemented in Lapa, and more recently Flamengo, Lagoa and Meier with noted success.