Cameras on PM uniforms strengthen the fight against crime and challenge Tarcísio’s promise

A study still kept confidential by the Military Police of São Paulo calls into question one of the most controversial promises of the elected governor, Tarcisio de Freitas (Republicans). The work concluded that the camera program installed in military police officers, which Tarcísio and Bolsonaristas want to review, caused a 24% increase in the number of gun seizures and a 102% increase in domestic violence cases, in addition to an increase of 78 % of drug possession cases.

That is, the equipment increased the PM’s effectiveness in combating female aggressors, in addition to making life more difficult for other criminals. Occurrences that used to be underreported are now being registered by the police. It’s as if the corporation has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against crime. There was also a drop in the number of police officers killed on duty and 57% of cases of people killed as a result of police action.

Derrite and Tacísio in the campaign: governor chose deputy critical of the cameras for Security.
Derrite and Tacísio in the campaign: governor chose deputy critical of the cameras for Security. Photograph: Captain Derrite/Facebook

The study’s conclusions potentially undermine the discourse adopted in the electoral campaign by the elected governor and his future Public Security Secretary, the re-elected federal deputy and captain Guilherme Muraro Derrite (PL) – that the cameras would inhibit, reduce and embarrass the police during the job. The revision of the program faces resistance at the top of the state security forces.

The study was commissioned by the command of the PM to the Center for Applied Science in Public Security of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV). He followed the evolution of criminality in company areas before and after the adoption of Portable Operational Cameras (COP) and compared it with data from units that never used the equipment, between June 2021 and July 2022.

“In addition to domestic violence, there was an increase in the volume of notifications of occurrences of low offensive potential, such as thefts, arguments, fights, aggression and threats, but not in occurrences of robberies, homicides, drugs and traffic accidents”, says the study, completed in October of this year.

According to data from PM bulletins, each of the 179 police units that work with the cameras listed an increase of 28 crime records, on average, per company, per two months, which is equivalent to an increase of 12% in comparison with the evolution of the group without a camera. It was among MPs with cameras that there was an increase in domestic violence bulletins – on average, 9 more cases were filed in each police company.

These were the data that convinced the governor Rodrigo García (PSDB) to keep the project as it is. He even raised doubts about the measure until he visited the Rondas Ostensivas Tobias Aguiar (Rota) headquarters and spoke with colonels who demonstrated how the program was making the PM more efficient in fighting crime and providing the courts with irrefutable evidence of police conduct.

The study is signed by professors Joana Monteiro (FGV), Leandro Piquet (USP), Eduardo Fagundes (FGV) and Julia Guerra (FGV). He uses econometrics and shows that companies that had cameras installed had an average of 0.42 deaths caused by police officers every two months, and those without cameras, 0.31 cases. On average, the number of deaths resulting from police intervention was reduced by 57% compared to the average in the pre-camera period. “This means that 104 deaths were avoided in the first 14 months of the introduction of the cameras, considering only the metropolitan area of ​​the capital”, states the study.

The result for bodily injuries caused by police actions had a 63% drop in total cases. And that didn’t happen because the police failed to act. This is what the research suggests, as data on criminality and productivity of the Civil and Military Police show that the numbers of arrests in flagrante delicto in general and cases of drug trafficking remained unchanged, contrary to what Bolsonaristas claimed. According to the study’s authors, the results “do not suggest that the reduction in the use of force can be explained by reduced police effort.”

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If it was not the Military Police that stopped working, nor the total number of serious crimes, such as femicide or rape, increased and there is no evidence that the behavior of suspects with the police has improved with the cameras, why, then, have cases dropped? use of force by the PM? This question was asked by FGV researchers.

Several hypotheses were tested, and the researchers’ response was that “the existence of supervisory mechanisms and the improvement of protocols may be behind the significant reduction in the use of force”. According to the teachers, “the images produced by the cameras on the uniforms can be analyzed by the police officer’s chain of command, so that he can be held responsible for non-compliance with protocols”.

PM cameras do not need to be triggered manually and record the entire police shift. “The use of cameras induced police officers to better report what happens during incidents”, concluded the study. In Rio, where the PM tested a model in which the camera needs to be turned on by the police, less than 10% of the agents activated the equipment in a month of patrolling.

“The use of cameras induced police officers to better report what happens during occurrences”

Study commissioned by the command of the PM to the Center for Applied Science in Public Security of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV)

In addition to reducing the excessive use of force, the initiative from São Paulo wanted to improve the evidence collected in incidents and enable the use of images in training police techniques, in addition to increasing the transparency and legitimacy of the Military Police. In 2020, 585 cameras were distributed to 3 battalions. In 2021, the PM acquired 2,500 cameras for 18 battalions. Today, 66 battalions use the cameras.

Altogether, there were eight years of research and exchange of experiences with police officers in New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Bogotá. A DataFolha survey showed that the population’s support for the cameras is 90%.

During the election campaign, Derrite’s statement that the program exists to monitor police officers caused discomfort in the PM command. Former National Secretary of Security, Colonel José Vicente da Silva stated that only bad police officers are against the program.

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For him, the cameras are part of “the maturation of the police strategy of prevention, which opposes the retrograde concept of the strategy of confrontation and repression as a political priority”. This, according to him, in addition to “privileging special forces and systematic operations, opposes the strengthening of the territorial police, which operates more efficiently in the factors and conditions of most crimes and disorders”.

  • 6 thousand is the total number of deaths caused by police actions in 2020 in the country, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum.
  • 190% was the increase in the number of people killed by police officers in the country between 2013 and 2020, reaching an average of 18 cases per day.
  • 10 thousand cameras have so far been installed in 66 of the 134 PM battalions.
  • 102% was the increase in records of domestic violence made by Military Police who started using cameras.
  • 24% was the growth in cases of seizure of weapons with cameras.
  • 57% was the drop in the total number of people killed by battalions after the adoption of cameras.

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