Violence up in Rio, down in Sao Paulo

This article contrasts the experiences of Brazil’s two best-known states over the last 20 years. Rio de Janeiro’s homicide rate has gone up and down, whereas Sao Paulo has enjoyed a long-term decline. Experts credit Sao Paulo with sustained investments in public security and professionalism, but also cite an organized crime monopoly that recognized “violence was bad for business.” Rio has had a “stunning” oscillation in murder rates and now “There is not a state anymore. The law of the jungle is the law” with a resurgence of criminal gangs and an estimated 40% of the state controlled by militia groups run by former police.

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Amsterdam plan to reduce ethnic profiling

This article reports development of a draft plan by Amsterdam police to reduce the occurrence of ethnic profiling. The plan notes that “stopping people based on their race, ethnicity, skin color, language or religion” is “illegal, degrading and does not fit with the values of the police organization” and “leads to feelings of exclusion, powerlessness and shame.” Police will attend a “professional check” workshop, teams will be responsible for developing implementation plans, designated officers will monitor performance, and stops data will be included in police’s semi-annual results reviews.

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Our data, you asked

New Zealand Police has released an annual report for 2018, available here, that summarizes crime and police activity data regularly updated on their portal, located here. The report’s introduction states “Our evidence-based approach to policing uses statistical information, combined with the skills, knowledge, and experience of our staff, to inform our professional judgement and decision-making. Accurate and up to-date information is critical to how we prevent harm in our communities.”

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Yes ma’am

Hong Kong experienced mass protests last week, resulting in riot police deployment and extensive use of tear gas. When an estimated 2 million people returned to the streets on Sunday, however, they were met by “lightly-armed officers, many of them in baseball caps or in plain clothes” including “a marked increase in the presence of female cops,” as reported here. The switch in tactics seemed to be “an acknowledgement from the police that they had been overly aggressive and sparked public fury over what was deemed a heavy-handed and an excessive use of force.”

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One size doesn’t fit all

This policy brief identifies 4 scenarios with different implications for police reform in post-conflict situations. Experts stress the importance of taking local circumstances into account, but it is not always recognized — “in mission after mission … training programs have been put in place like canned food that is assumed to be universally nourishing. In complex environments, however, one size doesn’t fit all.” This is especially true when national institutions are weak.

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Global coordination against transnational crime

This column by Interpol reports a meeting in Lyon of regional police organizations (AFRIPOL, AMERIPOL, ASEANAPOL, the Arab Interior Ministers Council, Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex, and the Gulf Cooperation Council-POL) along with the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the UNODC. The focus was “counter-terrorism, organized crime and border security strategies … to ensure that the systems put in place to exchange information and intercept criminals work well together.”

Posted in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania, South America | 1 Comment

Security sector change during and after conflict

This column interviews two officials who were heavily involved in police reform efforts in Georgia, Ukraine, and Jordan. They describe how changes were implemented in post-Soviet and post-conflict situations, and even in circumstances of active conflict. International assistance was key along with a sustained commitment by activists and reformers.

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