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Over 60% of Brazilians Distrust the Police: Survey

Rio de Janeiro police Rio de Janeiro police

A new academic study found that over half of those surveyed are dissatisfied with police performance in Brazil, a perception likely influenced by the force's long history of corruption and extrajudicial killings.

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According to the study, published by the Getulio Vargas Foundation's Law School in São Paulo, 63 percent of Brazilians are unsatisfied with police performance in Brazil, reported Folha de São Paulo.

Brazil's judicial system also fared poorly, with 90 percent of survey respondents stating that justice is slow in the country and 64 percent claiming the judiciary is dishonest. 

The study found that Brazilians view the armed forces more favorably: 75 percent of those surveyed said that the military is Brazil's most trusted security institution.

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Part of this public distrust towards the police is likely explained by police officers' routine use of lethal force. A 2009 report by Human Rights Watch found that in 2008, police in Rio de Janeiro killed one person for every 23 arrests, while São Paulo police killed one for every 348. In comparison, police in the United States killed one person for every 37,000 arrests.

Compounding this problem are corrupt elements in the police who are complicit in gang networks throughout the country. Earlier this month, 60 police agents in Rio de Janeiro were arrested for allegedly taking weekly bribes ranging between $700 to $1,200, in exchange for allowing gangs to continue trafficking drugs in favelas around the city.

In a move praised by Human Rights Watch, Brazil's Human Rights Defense Council recently issued a resolution that lays out standard homicide investigation procedures that all state level police should follow, to ensure that police killings are properly investigated. Providing the resolution is followed it could go some way in helping restore public confidence in the police force, although it remains to be seen just how legally binding the nature of this resolution is.

The release of the Getulio Vargas Foundation's report comes at a time when São Paulo state's police are particularly embattled: 100 police officers in the state have been killed this year, many as a result of violence attributed to fighting between the police and the First Capital Command (PCC) prison gang.

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