By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to new data released from the Rio de Janeiro state government’s online portal and compiled by Globo news, in 2017, Rio de Janeiro state spent R$9.9 billion on security, with only 0.14 percent of that amount, approximately R$13.4 million, devoted to public security investment (vehicles, weapons, equipment, computers), the lowest percentage recorded in the last ten years.
The majority of the state’s security expenses in 2017 were devoted to staff payroll, which consumed about R$8.2 billion, or 83 percent of the total budget.
By comparison, in 2007, state security spending totaled totalled R$4.35 billion. At that time, personnel expenses only accounted for about 46 percent of the budget, about R$2 billion. Meanwhile, security investments, accounted for 1.29 percent of the budget, about R$56 million, over R$40 million more than 2017’s figure.
The increase in budget allocated to personnel is further reflected in the increase of Military Police staff, which has grown 16.5 percent in the last seven years, from 38,000 in 2010 to over 44,000 in 2017.
Despite the increase in officers, the dimunitive allocation towards investment is felt on the streets, where according to one military police officer, “vehicles are falling apart, few of them are able to patrol. Also, weapons are not suited to the reality we live. Militants have large-caliber weapons, while ours often fail.”
The officer, who spoke with Globo under the condition of anonymity, added, “Our bulletproof vests are not adapted to the reality that we live. There are vests prepared to withstand .30 caliber shots. But ours do not.”
In terms of per capita spending on security, Rio currently ranks sixth in the country spending R$600 per inhabitant. Minas Gerais leads the per capita rankings spending R$777 per resident on security. At the other end of the spectrum, Maranhão, spent the least per capita on security at R$227 per resident.
São Paulo was in 12th place, spending R$454,00 per person. Despite being below Rio in per capita security spending, São Paulo’s homicide rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016 was far below Rio’s which registered almost 38 deaths per 100,000.
For Arthur Trindade, the former Distrito Federal Security Secretary and advisor to the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, the latest data reflects serious mismanagement by Rio de Janeiro state.
“We [Rio de Janeiro] spend in the highest capacity of all the states, and we spend badly,” said Trindade, “in the sense that the professionals are always dissatisfied with wages, with good reason, and the policing is insufficient.”
“In addition, you invest very little. It’s a difficult scenario,” he added. “And what is the formula? It certainly goes to increase expenses. But it’s no use if all the resources continue to go to the payroll.”
This past February, after months of escalating violence, Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, declared federal intervention in Rio’s public security. Temer called for Brazil’s Armed Forces to oversee both civil and military police in the state, as well as firefighters and intelligence agencies.