Recife and Bogotá talk urban violence

Palestra do ex-secretário de Segurança Pública de Bogotá - H

“Representatives of Recife Mayor’s Office, the State Government, the Civil and Military police, the Municipal Guard, Firefighters and other institutions discussed, on the 4th of September, innovative experiences on the subject of preventing urban violence. The event happened in the auditorium of the Banco Central, in Santo Amaro, and included the participation of the ex-Secretary of Security of the city of Bogotá, Hugo Acero, and the sociologist José Arlindo Soares.

Acero, who commanded the security measures in the Colombian capital for 9 years, talked about the work he developed in Bogotá to reduce the rate of violence, principally homocides. In the 90s, the city had 80 cases per 100K residents. “To intervene in a place that suffers with deliquency means going beyond the work of the police. What’s needed is the participation of the city government in the process and to work in conjunction with them”, explained the Colombian.

According to him, actions like the recuperation of public spaces, the installation of libraries and shared living spaces, are the responsibility of the cities and directly influence the reduction of crime and affect the quality of life of the population. “The origin of violence isn’t in poverty, but in the way people relate to each other. If we improve the public illumination, the sidewalks, the schools, we reduce the conflict”, he affirmed.

For the Secretary of Urban Security of Recife, Murilo Cavalcanti, the Pernambucan capital is already on the right path towards making changes that will create these transformations. “Here, the mayor Geraldo Julio already took responsibility to combat and prevent violence. We already launched the Pacto Pela Vida do Recife, the Eu Amo Meu Bairro program, we are also finalizing the installation of 40 new video-monitoring cameras and we’re integrated with the State Pact to reduce, more and more, the violence in our city”, he affirmed.” – Source (PT)

Data from the “Mapa da Violência 2013” shows that, in the last 10 years, Pernambuco saw homocides reduced by nearly 28% while Recife saw reductions of 41%.

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There are a few points I can add to the article I translated above. First, the broken window theory, which says that “maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.” In other words, if a building, for example, already has broken windows, it practically invites further damage.

Second, upon a visit to João Pessoa, where I walked along Av. João Maurício at night, I noticed there were plenty of lights along the sidewalk, plus the area between the street and the actual waves coming in from the ocean was minimal. Not to mention, there was commerce open (stores, restaurants, etc) at night along the street and plenty of cars driving by. This made it very people-friendly and surely dissuaded any criminal activity that might otherwise occur in such an area.

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