This article was originally published in Estadão, on October 28th, 2022. Reproduced with the author’s permission..
It is hard to foresee who will win this second round of the presidential election. But it is reasonably easy to accept the diagnosis that Brazil has, for years, lacked a public security policy capable of assigning the federal government the role of inducer and articulator of actions to reduce violence in collaboration with states and municipalities. The last four years were marked by populist measures, increased access to firearms, attempts to pass laws that legitimize police violence and an attempt to use federal security forces for private interests.
Thus, the new president will have the mission of reverting setbacks and republicanizing these institutions. At the inter-ministerial meeting in 2020, which resulted in the resignation of minister Sérgio Moro, interference in the work of the Federal Police was evident, and later became blatant when the director was replaced five times in four years, a record turnover of this position. Today the Federal Police force is weakened and marked by the attack that Roberto Jefferson launched, using a rifle and pepper spray grenades, against officials and agents who were complying with a court order. The institutional response offered by the Federal Police was very weak. The Federal Highway Police was also removed from its main function of inspecting highways and saving lives and became involved in disastrous police actions that are not part of its constitutional role.
The reversal of setbacks is fundamental to consolidate a future agenda for public security in the country. The new president must revoke the, ‒often illegal‒ measures that dismantled control over weapons and ammunition and restore the policy of control and responsible inspection of them. Concealed bearing of weapons and the authorization to purchase dozens of rifles that were granted to shooters, hunters and collectors must be banned and all the ammunition sold in the country must be marked. The logic of “every man for himself” that allows civilians to purchase weapons more powerful than the police’s, creating their own arsenals, cannot be maintained. The security agenda created by the Sou da Paz and Igarapé institutes contains two different priorities: first, to provide conditions for the police to act with intelligence, security and effectiveness, modernizing regulations and proposing reforms in the use of force, while encouraging the valuing and professionalization of police work; second, to reduce the impunity of homicides, improving the investigation and prevention of these crimes to protect those most affected by them: the poor, black and peripheral youth.
These are the paths towards a democratic security policy committed to achieving results, without easy, populist solutions.
Carolina Ricardo is the executive director of the Sou da Paz Institute.
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