Brazil’s National Force to Ensure Safety during Olympic Games
By Geraldine Cook March 24, 2016
With over 9,000 men and women assigned to the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil’s National Force will handle all of the security inside the sports facilities during the event.
Brazil’s National Public Security Force, which is made up of more than 15,000 of the best police officers and firefighters from every state, was established in 2004 as a security measure for the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. During the 2016 Olympic Games, the National Force will be responsible for public safety inside the Games’ venues.
With 9,613 of its men and women in action during the event, this special force will handle the protection of athletes and officials, as well as the audience members in attendance, coordinating everything from security checks at the gates, on-site inspections, the safety of the medals, and providing first responders and bomb squads. In the event of a terrorist threat, for example, the first response will come from the National Force, but if a terrorist attack occurs,
authorities will deploy the Army and the Federal Police.
Since the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio, the National Force has been deployed for several major events, such as the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, World Youth Day in 2013, the Confederations Cup in 2013, and the World Cup in 2014. “We have been growing as we go,” National Public Security Secretary Regina Miki De Luca explained. “We are going into the Olympics with standard operating procedures. We already know automatically what to do.”
Security officials are making the final adjustments through Olympic test events, the first of which was held in February for a diving competition. On April 16th-24th, the National Force will participate in a gymnastics test event. Finally, on May 17th-21st, the National Force will arrive for the Paralympic track and field test event and will remain in the city until the end of the Games. All of its officers will stay at the Vila Carioca, a new development built through the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (“My Home, My Life”) program, which funds affordable public housing. The development is being provided by the federal government to host National Force members during Rio 2016. Authorities will turn the facility over to the public after the Olympics, which will take place from August 5th through August 21st.
The site is adjacent to the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, which is home to most of the sports venues. However, the force “will also serve in the Deodoro arenas and the areas around the Maracanã Stadium and Copacabana,” Secretary Miki said. “We are bringing our experience from the other major events, but we do not have an Olympic experience. Therefore, we are updating our procedures based on the experiences of countries that have hosted the Games and other major sporting events recently. In addition to the World Cup, which was held here and where we served, we had representatives in London, at the Pan American Games in Toronto, and I myself went to the World Championships in Athletics in China.”
Security forces cooperate
The National Force’s work is integrated with other agencies. The Federal Highway Police, for example, is responsible for the safety of the athletes and delegations during transportation from one site to another. The Military Police, Civil Police, Fire Department, and the Armed Forces, among others, also have assignments.
“We will not handle security on the streets, but inside the premises,” Secretary Miki stated, adding that all the equipment purchased will be part of the country’s Olympic legacy. “The entryway metal detectors, for example, will be provided to prisons after the end of the event. The precision weapons and personal protective equipment, such as shields, helmets, and vests, will be turned over to the National Force itself.”
Currently, the National Force is conducting 43 operations in 15 states. It handles everything from providing reinforcements to the Federal Police in border areas to protecting populations on indigenous lands, as well as supporting homicide investigations and the occupation of conflict areas, such as Morro Santo Amaro, in Catete, in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone. About 6,000 of the officers assigned to those operations will continue to conduct their daily activities during the Games, while the other 9,613 will provide security for the event.
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