Governor Wilson Witzel says the measure will help to ensure there is a strong pool of candidates for top positions in the administration.
Governor Wilson Witzel signed a decree Thursday creating the rank of "General" in the state's police and firefighters. The Governor said he intends to also send the measure to the state's assembly to be signed into law.
The move is the latest in a series which demonstrates the Governor’s desire to further militarize the state's security apparatus. Witzel ran for office on a platform that promised to empower police to be more proactive in using deadly force to target criminals.
Since being elected to office, the Governor has conducted several photo opportunities to show his strong ties to police. This week Witzel's team posted a photo to social media of the Governor aiming a sniper rifle well dressed in the uniform of the BOPE – Rio's special operations police. Earlier in the year, he was criticized for joining police on an operation from an armed helicopter.
Governor Witzel justified his creation of the rank of General by saying that it demonstrates the improvement in discipline amongst the institutions and shows the state's appreciation for their role in providing security for Rio's population. He went on to state that the measure will ensure that there is a pool of trained and ready officers to take on the top roles in Rio’s security and civil defense apparatus.
"The main objective of the initiative is to organize the military career, extending the time spent by the colonels in active duty, and limiting political appointments in the positions of Secretary of State for Military Police and Commander General of the Fire Department. The text also provides for the implementation of higher-education courses along the lines of the Armed Forces to offer commanders robust expertise in conducting combat troops," Witzel said in a statement.
The Governor's decree has left several security specialists questioning the practicality of such a measure.
"In terms of hierarchy, these "generals" continue being colonels. General is a rank designated for officers of the Armed Forces. So It raises the question: how will a general of the Armed Forces respond to a "general" of the police? Will he be referred to as colonel or general? Certainly as colonel. This "fake" rank of general of the police may even create institutional malaise," former head of police Colonel Ubiratan Ângelo told Brazilian paper O Globo. Ângelo went on to question the legality of such a measure.
The decree indicates that there will be no increase in pay for those appointed the rank of general. Currently the head of police, Colonel Rogério Figueredo, and the head of the firefighters, Colonel Roberto Robadey Júnior will be the first to receive the designation.