By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The neighborhood of Lapa in Rio’s Centro had an increased police presence this year through Carnival in an effort to reduce street crime and make the celebrations safer. Operação Lapa Presente (OLP) brought 180 police agents to the street, and according to authorities reduced crime by thirty percent from last year.
Lapa is famous for its art and traditional music scene of samba and forro, as well as an open street party that carries on through the night. It also has a reputation for being sometimes dangerous with pickpockets and muggings more common here than in other tourist destinations in the city.
Authorities say the goal of the OLP action is to curb robberies, thefts, among other crimes, and promote urban planning in Lapa and historic Rio. According to the operations coordinator, the captain of the PM, Leornardo Laureano de Oliveira, despite the large number of revelers in the city there were no major problems (as of Tuesday, February 17th).
“We believe that the presence of the OLP restrained various crimes, and further reinforced our effectiveness by about thirty percent. We had a significant reduction from the possession of events and use of drugs in this Carnival so far, for example. In 2014 carnival were 45 cases this year only nine until Monday,” he said.
“We seek to reduce crime rates by promoting the well-being and the right of movement of residents, patrons and domestic and foreign tourists. Since January to September last year, in our area we reduced the vehicle theft by 72 percent, pedestrian theft by 41 percent and other theft by 35 percent, according to report of the Public Security Institute (ISP)” Captain Oliveira added.
From Friday (February 13th) through the early morning hours of Monday (February 16th), police made nine arrests for theft, two weapon seizures (knife), and nine arrests for possession and use of drugs. In addition two arrests we made for causing bodily injury, one for a street fight, and another one for disorderly conduct. Agents also collected 49 homeless people over the four-day holiday.
The government news source interviews residents and Carnival revelers and reported approval of the increased police presence. The couple Marcio dos Santos, 46, and Maria Elizabeth Chagas, 42, said “I find it very good to be able to feel more secure in certain places in Rio during Carnival. It is important to have this type of [police] presence.”
The OLP began its activities on January 1, 2014. They act in an integrated operation: the Secretary of State or Government, the Military Police, the Municipal Guard, the municipal Public Order, Social Welfare, Conservation and Transportation, in addition to COMLURB (the city sanitation department).