November 14, 2018


ORDER FROM CHAOS: How Brazil's Bolsonaro can apply global lessons learned in fighting crime (Michael E. O'Hanlon, November 13, 2018, Brookings)

[B]olsonaro would do well to bear in mind principles that have been learned in creating successful strategies to fight crime around the world. Several are highlighted in a 2017 study, "Securing global cities: Best practices, innovation, and the path ahead," that I co-authored with former U.S. Army Chief of Staff and Iraq commander General Raymond Odierno.  Below, in short, are the core findings of our research, which examined a range of major challenges to the world's cities, including "normal crime," transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels, terrorism, and massive disasters. Not all the principles are equally relevant to Brazil's core problems today, but it is still useful to summarize all of them in case the situation evolves. It is also worth emphasizing that the general concept of community policing must be adapted to the circumstances of a given country; in Brazil, this will admittedly be a challenge, yet it is important not to give up, or to think there is an easier way. [...]


To gain support from communities and address the root causes of crime and terrorism, authorities must promote social cohesion as a central element--not an afterthought--of the urban security effort. The neighborhoods and demographic groups most affected by crime and violence must be treated as essential allies. Moreover, education and employment opportunities must be expanded in urban areas suffering from lack of opportunity and hope in order to address the root causes of crime. Our research has uncovered several creative ideas--for example, using fire departments or national army outreach efforts in places where police departments may not be easily trusted, and engaging formerly incarcerated individuals or rehabilitated former members of violent gangs or groups to reach out to disenfranchised communities. The private sector can make inclusion a priority in hiring and retention policies. Public-private partnerships can also help steer private funds and energies to programs that promote inclusion. [...]


This theme is so central to our findings that it is interwoven throughout all six of the above principles, and hard to separate out from any of them. The "Securing Global Cities" paper attests to many examples of where it is working already--and argues strongly for expanding such efforts in the future. The importance of public-private collaboration bears emphasis in any summary of the core principles of the urban security enterprise.

President-elect Bolsonaro has been a divisive figure in Brazilian politics, but as he begins his presidency, he will have an opportunity to help unify the country if he can deliver on his promise to take on crime. That is an important priority for Brazil, to be sure, but it is also a daunting challenge. To be successful, he will need to emulate and implement best practices from around the world. Fortunately, many ideas and approaches have by now been tried in enough different places and settings that we are beginning to know a lot more about what works. I hope Bolsonaro will take the time to study and to learn.

Posted by at November 14, 2018 4:20 AM