Rio de Janeiro beefs up security with Olympics a year away

Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:46pm EDT
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By Rodrigo Viga Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro will employ more than twice the number of security personnel for the 2016 Olympics than London used in 2012 but authorities are not planning to occupy the city's notorious favelas, the games' organizers said on Thursday.

A total of 85,000 people will be involved, including law enforcement, private stewards and security guards.

"There has never been anything like this in the country and the key word is cooperation," Andrei Augusto Rodrigues, Brazil's point man on security, told reporters at an event held 53 weeks before South America's first Olympic Games begin.

Rio de Janeiro is almost as famous for its violence as for its gorgeous beaches and picture postcard landmarks of Sugarloaf mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

But the number of homicides has fallen significantly in recent years, helped by a program for community policing of many of the favelas, or shantytowns, that are closest to venues for the Summer Games.

Troops occupied at least one major favela during the 2014 World Cup but authorities said they were not planning to repeat that in 2016.

"In 2007 the city was the second most violent in the country and today it is the 23rd," Rio state security chief Jose Mariano Beltrame said. "We are going to have a great games, just like the other events we've held here."

The city will also create an integrated center to prevent more organized attacks.   Continued...

A view shows the construction site of the Rio 2016 Olympic Aquatic sports venue at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes