Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Branches of the Police in Brazil

Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


In Brazil, the police are state-run agencies that perform different functions, and therefore, they are subdivided into categories. Here you will find all the Brazilian branches of the police, their differences and their spheres of operation.

According to Brazilian Constitution of 1988, public security is a right of all Brazilian citizens and is the complete responsibility of the state. The Brazilian branches of police are:

  • Polícia Federal, also known as PF, the Federal Police.
  • Polícia Rodoviária Federal, also known as PRF, the Federal Highway Police.
  • Polícia Ferroviária Federal, also known as PFF, the Railway Federal Police.
  • Polícias Civis, also known as PC, the Civil Police.
  • Polícias Militares e Corpos de Bombeiros Militares also known respectively as PM and CBM, are the Military Police and the Military Fireman Corporations.

All branches of police in Brazil must guarantee the public order and protection of citizens and public property. The 1988 Constitution also established all functions mentioned above as the responsibility and obligation of the state.

Brazil is a Federal Republic that is subdivided into states that are divided in municipalities. Therefore, the police activity does not only vary according to their branches, but also varies according to the area of jurisdiction in the government spheres. Brazil as a whole is named as a union and it's administration is the responsibility of the federal government. Each state of the union is administrated by a state government while the municipalities are designated to the municipal government.

Law Enforcement Agencies of the Union

Law enforcement agencies of the union are branches of the police responsible to act in throughout the national territory.

Polícia Federal

The Polícia Federal has the function of Polícia Legislativa Federal, the Federal Legislative Police, responsible for acting in the senate or in the house of representatives. The Polícia Federal Legislativa guarantees the safety of the senators, also known as Polícia do Senado Federal.

The Polícia Legislativa Federal that acts in the house of representatives is responsible for investigating crimes overseen by the judicial branch acting as the judiciary police also known as Polícia Judiciária.

Another function of the Polícia Federal is the Polícia Marítima e Aeroportuária, which is the police force responsible for guaranteeing the security of maritime ports, airports, other ports of entry, and also controlling and enforcing the Brazilian border, customs and issuance of passports.

Polícia Rodoviária Federal

The PRF´s main function is combating crimes on the federal highways of Brazil. They must also monitor and control vehicle traffic. The PRF is present everywhere in Brazil and it is administrated by the Departamento de Polícia Rodoviário Federal, also known as DPRF, or the Department of Highway Federal Police which, is headquartered in Brasília.

PRF enforces from patrol points stationed among the states and municipalities along the federal highway system. Nowadays there are 400 PRF patrol points in Brazil.

Polícia Ferroviária Federal

The PFF is the permanent police force charged with patrolling Brazilian railways in order to insure their protection. The PFF also works in the area of preventing vandalism and crimes of all types, assisting the safety of the metropolitan train company of São Paulo, supervising the transport company of Salvador and helping constantly by policing in the cities of Recife, Natal, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre.

State Police Forces

State police forces are branches of the police responsible for acting in each Brazilian state.

Polícia Militar and Corpos de Bombeiros Militares

The Polícia Militar insures public safety in each Brazilian state. Their work as a police force must be evident to the people, for example, by the use of clearly marked vehicles, uniforms, badges or any other way that allows military police officers to be easily identified by all. They must guarantee the preservation of the public order in every Brazilian State and in Distrito Federal, working for the protection of the State and of the civil population.

Military police officers, also known as PMs, are a part of the Brazilian army, acting as reserve forces if needed, composing as well the System of Public Security and Brazilian Social Protection. They are submitted to the State governments. Every PM, is also subjected in each state to a superior official named as Comandante Geral, which is the commander general.

Polícia Civil

This type of police force can be found in every Brazilian State, they are headed by general delegates that must command the local delegates while the local delegates are responsible for each Police District. The Polícia Civil of the State acts as the judiciary police, as well as the Polícia Federal, helping the law enforcement of crimes regarding the state judicial branch. The PC is responsible for investigating state crimes, to realize police inquiries and to act as investigators.

Other Types of Security Forces

The following types of security forces are not considered by Brazilian Legislation as Police branches, but are also organizations that guarantee security and order.

Força Nacional e Guardas Municipais

The Força Nacional de Segurança Pública is the national force of public safety, it is a force of quick and localized action, since their action is not permanent, the Força Nacional cannot be considered a police force.

The Guardas Municipais are the municipal guards, which are civil corporations that use uniforms, are equipped with firearms, bullet-proof vests and other civil police objects, and have specific training established by law. Their members are considered Municipal Security Agents, responsible for the safekeeping of public property and for public safety. Such as the Força Nacional, the Guarda Municipal does not include the Brazilian Constitution as a police force.

Polícia Científica

This is the Scientific Police that exist in almost every Brazilian State, the force is specialized in the production of new techniques through the scientific analysis of forensic evidence. They receive different nominations in each state of the federation and may be submitted to the Polícia Civil or directly linked to the Secretary of Safety. They are not also considered a police force by the 1988 Constitution.

Polícia das Forças Armadas

PFA is the Police of Armed Forces, which is the force that guarantees the fulfillment of military regulation. The types of forces that act in order to guarantee it are the following:

  • Polícia do Exército, also known as PE, is the police force responsible for protecting the Army and guaranteeing the fulfillment of military regulations.
  • Polícia da Aeronáutica, also known as PA, is the police force responsible for the same functions of the PE, although it is only responsible for what is regarded as the Brazilian Air Force.
  • Companhia de Polícia do Batalhão Naval, which is the Company of Police of the Naval Battalion, responsible for the same duties designated to PE and PA, but only in the marine scope.