SAO PAULO – The government and representatives of the militarized police in the southeastern Brazilian state of Espirito Santo reached an accord on Friday to end a job action by officers that unleashed a crime wave accompanied by 121 deaths.
The militarized cops will return to work at 7 a.m. Saturday, state Human Rights Secretary Julio Cesar Pompeu told a press conference.
Officers who joined in the strike “will not suffer disciplinary sanctions,” the official said, but he left open whether the state government will drop the mutiny charges it filed against some 700 members of the force.
In the case of defendants who have already been arraigned, “those investigations will follow their normal course,” Pompeu said.
The government and the police representatives agreed to establish a commission to review the working conditions of the militarized cops and report back within 60 days, according to a document leaked to O Globo newspaper.
Brazil, like many Latin American countries, divides the tasks of law enforcement among multiple agencies. Each of the country’s 27 states has both a militarized police force – responsible for law and order – and a civilian agency that investigates crimes.
Members of the militarized police have the legal status of soldiers and, as such, are banned from taking part in strikes or protests.
The strike in Espirito Santo took the form of the officers’ allowing their family members to surround the barracks and prevent them from reporting for duty.
The disgruntled officers demanded more money for crime fighting and pay increases for themselves.
Vitoria, which is home to more than 350,000 inhabitants and the capital of the state of Espirito Santo, is typically a tranquil city that garners little attention from the national media.
But that changed as a result of the police crisis, which is blamed for 121 homicides and turned the state capital into a virtual ghost town with businesses shuttered, public transportation halted and scarcely anyone on the streets.