SAO PAULO (AP) — A state government in northeastern Brazil has declared a "state of calamity" for public security due to a police strike that has lasted nearly 20 days.

Civilian and military police officers walked off the job Dec. 19 in Rio Grande do Norte. They are demanding back pay and better working conditions.

The state public safety department reports that there has been a spike in burglaries and violence during the period, including at least 100 murders.

On Dec. 29 the state called in federal troops to stem the violence. Nearly 3,000 soldiers are patrolling the streets of the state capital, Natal, and other cities.

The calamity decree was published Saturday in the state's official gazette. It allows the state government to pay for services and sign contracts without a bidding process.