By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Launched by Rio’s Secretary of State in January 2014, the Operation Lapa Presente has so far arrested numerous people for crimes and sheltered 15,000 homeless people in the one year and four months of its existence and has been deemed a success so far by the authorities.
Part of the operation are a corps of now 73 military policemen and women, who patrol the area around the Lapa Arches known for its street crime. The police then work together with the Secretary of State, the Municipal Guard, the municipal Secretaries for Public Order, Social Welfare, Conservation and Transportation, as well as COMLURB (the city sanitation department).
The police receive special training to approach people in a cordial form, respecting civilian rights. “We are determined that our officers treat people with cordiality and identify themselves. In fact, each approach that we conduct in Lapa is filmed,” Captain Laureano de Oliveira, coordinator of Lapa Presente stated.
Since January 2014, the Lapa Presente corps has arrested 275 persons with outstanding arrest warrants, among them eleven for homicide and 120 for robberies.
Another 2,156 persons were arrested due to narcotics related crimes, among them 2,045 were carrying drugs for their own consumption, while 111 were arrested for drug trafficking. Around 39 persons were brought into police delegations with so-called ‘white weapons’ (such as knives) and nineteen with fire arms. The police confiscated 7.5kg of drugs.
Lapa Presente was implemented on January 1, 2014 in a bid to protect the security of residents and visitors to the historic area of Lapa, a popular nightspot for those looking for a bohemian street-party experience of Rio, but also an area known for its street crime. The operation includes not only the presence of officers in the neighborhood to deter crime, but also wider considerations to promote urban planning.