SAO PAULO – The capital of the southeastern Brazilian state of Espirito Santo has experienced 52 homicides since police went on strike at the end of last week, a union leader said Monday.
Police began the job action on Saturday to protest the state government’s failure to invest in public safety and to value law enforcement personnel, Jorge Emiliano Legal told EFE
The disgruntled cops want to see more money devoted to crime-fighting as well as pay increases for themselves.
Crime has surged in Vitoria, the state capital, with a record 52 violent deaths in three days, Legal said.
“Genuine chaos” reigns in the city and residents are gripped by anxiety, he said.
In Brazil, the members of the 27 individual state police forces have the legal status of soldiers and, as such, are banned from taking part in strikes or protests.
The strike in Espirito Santo has taken the form of cops’ families surrounding their barracks to stop them from reporting for duty.
At the request of the state’s governor, the defense ministry has authorized the deployment of the armed forces in Vitoria “to ensure law and order.”
Sending in troops will not resolve the problem, union leader Legal said, calling instead for investment in the “restructuring of the force and in human resources.”
“It will be only a palliative because (the army) will have to return to the barracks one day and then crime will remain free to operate,” he said.