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Public Safety in Brazil

The Federal Constitution establishes eight law enforcement institutions in Brazil:

Affiliated to federal authorities:

  • Federal Police
  • Federal Highway Police
  • Federal Railroad Police
  • Federal Penal Police.

Subordinated to each state governments

  • Military Police and Fire Brigade
  • Civil Police
  • Penal Police

These public safety institutions are part of the Executive branch of either federal or state government. Apart from these institutions, there is one which affiliate to municipal authorities: the Municipal Guards. According to Minister Alexandre de Moraes of the Supreme Federal Court, "...the Municipal Guards are inserted in public safety as the auxiliary and related body of public security force..." There are two primary police functions: maintaining order and law enforcement. When criminal offences affect federal entities, federal police forces carry out those functions. In the remaining cases, the state police forces undertake police activities.1 Along with those functions, the Municipal Guards also have a focus on preventing vandalism on public property.

Law enforcement and maintaining order are the two primary functions of Brazilian police units. In Brazilian Law, maintaining order is considered a preventive effort whereby police troopers patrol the streets to protect citizens and discourage criminal activity. Law enforcement consists of criminal investigation after an offence.1 Prevention and investigation in Brazil are divided between two distinct police organizations. State "military police" forces only have order maintenance duties. Correspondingly, "civil police" institutions are responsible solely for crime investigation. However, at the federal level, the Federal Police is commissioned with both preventive and investigative functions of federal crimes.1


1 Law Enforcement in Brazil Wikipedia Page, accessed on April 19 2022