Police killings in Rio spark security worries
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian security officials met Monday to map out a strategy aimed at combatting a recent wave of police killings in Rio de Janeiro state.
The meeting, between the state’s top security official, Jose Mariano Beltrame, and the heads of the military police and civil police, comes on amid an uptick of violence targeting police that has left five officers and one soldier dead in less than a week. Three officers were killed in Rio’s suburbs the night before the meeting, the time and place of which were kept strictly under wraps.
Those killings bring to 105 the number of officers killed in Rio state this year.
In comments to journalists Monday, Beltrame insisted that there was no connection between the officers’ killings, adding that indiscriminate violence has long been at the heart of criminals’ strategy here.
“It’s a culture of total banalization of life that criminals created years ago in Rio de Janeiro. They carry an arm and without a minimum of thought make use of it, killing police and civilians,” Beltrame was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.
The spate of police killings comes amid a generalized deterioration in the security situation in Rio less than two years ahead of the 2016 Olympic games here. Frequent firefights have been reported of late in hillside slums under control of the so-called “pacifying” police forces that aim to oust heavily armed drug gangs and bring back the rule of law to poor areas that had long been abandoned by the state.