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Military Police
Polícia Militar
Brasão Nacional PPMM.PNG
Insignia of the Military Police used since 1957.[1]
Active 1834
Country  Brazil
Type Gendarmerie
Size 400,000 active personnel[2]
Part of Military Reserve Force
of Brazilian Army
Nickname(s) PM
Patron Joaquim José da Silva Xavier
Anniversaries April 21
Engagements 1828 - Mercenary Revolt (Royal Guard Police of Rio de Janeiro)
1835 - Ragamuffin War
1835 - Cabanagem
1835 - Malê Revolt
1838 - Balaiada
1848 - Praieira Revolt
1851 - Ronco da Abelha Revolt
1864 - Paraguayan War
1874 - Quebra-Quilos Revolt
1874 - Revolt of the Muckers
1893 - Revolt of the Navy
1893 - Federalist Revolution
1893 - War of Canudos
Fight against the Cangaço
1904 - Vaccine Revolt
1912 - Contestado War
1922 - Tenente Revolts
1924 - Revolts of 1924
1925 - Prestes Column
1930 - Revolution of 1930
1932 - Revolution of 1932
1935 - Communist Revolt
1967 - Guerrilla Warfares
Fights against narcotraffickers
2006 - Mid-2000s São Paulo violence
2010 - Early-2010s Rio de Janeiro security crisis
Commander Governors of the States
Ceremonial chief General-Commander of each PM

In Brazil, the Military Police (Portuguese language: Polícia Militar , IPA: [puˈlisjɐ miliˈtaʁ], also known as PM, [peˈẽmi]) are preventive state police forces responsible for maintaining public order within the States and the Federal District, and are subordinate to the state governments. The investigation of crimes, such as detective work, forensics and criminal investigation, is handled by the Civil Police forces of the states.

Each state has its own Military Police, with different formations, rules and uniforms. The military police forces of the states are distinct from the provost forces of the army, navy and airforce.

The Military Polices and Military Firefighters Corps are also reserve troops and ancillary forces of the Brazilian Army.[3] In time of war (or other emergencies) the military police forces can be pressed into federal service.

The provost corps for each of the Brazilian Armed Forces: Army Police (Portuguese language: Polícia do Exército, PE ) for the Army, Navy Police (Portuguese language: Polícia da Marinha ) for the Navy, and Air Force Police (Portuguese language: Polícia da Aeronaútica, PA ) for the Air Force.

There is also a joint National Public Security Force (Portuguese language: Força Nacional de Segurança Pública ), created in 1999. This force is composed of the most qualified State Military Police personnel from all the states, only to be used when the governor of a state asks for help to control a significant security crisis.

History[edit | edit source]

The first militarized police in Portugal (when Brazil was still a colony) was the Royal Police Guard of Lisbon (Portuguese language: Guarda Real de Polícia de Lisboa ), established in 1801;[4] which followed by model the National Gendarmerie (French language: Gendarmerie Nationale) of France, created in 1791.

When the Portuguese Royal Family was transferred to Brazil, the Royal Police Guard of Lisbon remained in Portugal, and another equivalent was created in Rio de Janeiro, under the name of Military Division of the Royal Guard Police of Rio de Janeiro, in 1809.[5]

With the abdication of Emperor Pedro I in 1831, the Regency held reformulations on the Brazilian Armed Forces. The Royal Guard Police of Rio de Janeiro was extinct,[6] and replaced by the Municipal Guard Corps of Volunteers;[7] a type of security force similar to the National Guard. The same law allowed each province to establish its own Guard of Volunteers.

In 1834 Pedro I died in Portugal and this reduced the fear in Brazil of a reunification of the kingdoms. The Guard of Volunteers were then transformed into Province Police Corps, with professional troops.[8] The Police Corps were created with the same structure as the Army, and to serve as reserve troops when necessary.

With the Proclamation of the Republic, Brazil adopted a constitution based on the United States' one, where the states have a large autonomy. The Corps of Police began to be administered by the states and became smaller regional armies, with infantry, cavalry, artillery, and later, even with air forces. This dangerous situation to the national security remained until the end of World War II, with the deposition of the dictatorial government of Getúlio Vargas.

After World War II, the Military Police assumed the roles of a more "traditional" police force, similar to a gendarmerie subject to the states.[9] They sought a rapprochement with the civil society, slowly developing the configuration it currently possesses.

Structure[edit | edit source]

Military Police of Paraná - 1938.

Organization[edit | edit source]

The Secretariat for Public Security (Secretaria de Segurança Pública—SSP) supervises all state police activities. The SSPs are subordinate to the National Council of Public Security (Conselho Nacional de Segurança Pública - CONASP).[10]

According to Article 144 of the federal constitution, the function of the Military Polices "is to serve as a conspicuous police force and to preserve public order." The Military Police of any state are organized as a military force and have a military-based rank structure. Training is weighted more heavily toward police matters, but counterinsurgency training is also included. Arms and equipment of state forces include machine guns and armored cars, in addition to other items generally associated with police.[11]

Article 144 of the constitution stipulates that: "The Military Police forces and the Military Firefighters Corps, ancillary forces and army reserve, are subordinate, along with the Civil Police forces, to the governors of the states, Federal District, and territories." Between 1969 and 1985, the Ministry of Army has controlled the Military Police during periods of declared national emergency. Before 1930 these forces were under individual state control, and known as "the governors' armies." They sometimes outnumbered regular troops in many states. In 1932, after Constitutionalist Revolution in São Paulo, the Federal Army took steps to reverse this situation. In 1964 most Military Police members were on the side of the successful conspirators.[12]

Mounted Police officers of PMPR - 2010.

During military dictatorship, Military Police units were often commanded by active-duty army officers, but that has occurred less frequently as professional police officers have achieved higher ranks and positions. The commandant of a state's Military Police is usually a Colonel. The command is divided into police regions, which deploy police battalions and companies. Firefighting is also a Military Police function in some states, but they are organized in separate units. State traffic police are either the State Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Estadual), or the Traffic Police (Polícia de Trânsito) in the larger cities. Both are part of the state Military Police.[13]

The Military Police is organized into battalions (Portuguese language: Batalhão de Polícia Militar ), companies (Portuguese language: Companhia de Polícia Militar ), platoons (Portuguese language: Pelotão de Polícia Militar ), and subdivided into detachments (Portuguese language: Destacamento de Polícia Militar ). The battalions are based in major urban centers, and their companies and platoons are distributed according to population density in cities.
The mounted police is organized into regiments (Portuguese language: Regimento de Polícia Montada ), subdivided into squadrons (Portuguese language: Esquadrão de Polícia Montada ) and platoons of mounted police.

Nomenclature[edit | edit source]

Throughout Brazil the Military Police is known by the acronym PM, followed by the abbreviation of the State. Except in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, where the unit is known as Military Brigade.

Mapa do Brasil por regiões.PNG

These forces are distinct from the three provost forces that police the Brazilian armed forces: The Naval Police (Portuguese language: Polícia da Marinha ), Army Police (Portuguese language: Polícia do Exército ), and Aeronautical Police (Portuguese language: Polícia da Aeronaútica )

Uniforms[edit | edit source]

Military Police of the Sao Paulo State.

The Brazilian Armed Forces inherited Portuguese military traditions and during the period of the Empire and part of the Republic, with few exceptions, dark blue uniforms were used.

Military Police of the Rio de Janeiro State use dark blue uniforms.

In 1903 the Brazilian Army opted for khaki colored field uniforms, later copied by the Military Police. In 1934 the Ministry of War established the color khaki for all the reserve forces.

After the Second World War, the Military Police had the autonomy to adopt its own uniforms, but most stayed with the khaki. During the Military Government in 1976, the Army suggested that the Military Police adopt the blue color (color of the uniform of the Military Police of the Federal District). Since then, some units have changed their uniforms, others have not.

Currently the color khaki (with variations to beige) and blue (with variations of gray to dark blue) prevail in the colors of the uniforms of the Military Police.

  • Forcess with khaki uniforms
  • Forces with blue uniforms (includes Blue-grey)
  • Forces with grey uniforms
  • Forces with green uniforms

This applies only to service uniforms, not to the formal uniform, which has different variations.

Ranks[edit | edit source]

The Military Police of the Brazilian States have almost the same hierarchical classification[14] of the Army, but with different insignias and with no rank of "general".

Lieutenant Colonel
(Primeiro Tenente)
Second Lieutenant
(Segundo Tenente)
Insignia PM O1.PNG
Insignia PM O2.PNG
Insignia PM O3.PNG
Insignia PM O4.PNG
Insignia PM O5.PNG
Insignia PM O6.PNG
Insignia PM O7.PNG
First Sergeant
(Primeiro Sargento)
Second Sergeant
(Segundo Sargento)
Third Sergeant
(Terceiro Sargento)
Insignia PM O8.PNG
Insignia PM P1.PNG
Insignia PM P2.PNG
Insignia PM P3.PNG
Insignia PM P5.PNG

Insignia PM P6.PNG

Main types of policing[edit | edit source]

File:Helicoptero pmesp2.jpg

GRPAe (Aerial Patrol Group) and GATE (SWAT) of Military Police of São Paulo State - 2007.


Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State - 2006.

Ratio of Military Police to Population[edit | edit source]

Analysis by the Federal Government of the ratio of resident population to the number of official Military Police in 2003 shows that the proportion is quite varied among the states. The states of Roraima, Amapá, Acre, Rondônia, Rio Grande do Norte and Rio de Janeiro, plus the Federal District have a higher proportion of Military Police. In the Federal District, for example, for each military police there are one hundred and thirty-seven inhabitants.

At the opposite extreme, the states with the lowest ratio of military police are Pará, Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. Maranhão has the lowest, with eight hundred and twenty-two people per Military Police.

Note that in the case of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia and Rondônia the numbers of the Military Firefighters Corps are included in the figures for Military Police.[15]

National Force of Public Safety[edit | edit source]

Brasão FNSP mini.PNG

FNSP in Rio de Janeiro - 2007.

In situations of serious disturbance of the public order that exceeds the capacity of the State, the Governors can request assistance from the Federal Government.
To work in such situations, the Ministry of Justice has the National Force of Public Safety (Portuguese language: Força Nacional de Segurança Pública


The FNSP is composed by specially trained officers of the Military Police of different States, in coordination between the Secretary of Public Safety of each State and the Ministry of Justice.

Inspectorate General of Military Police[edit | edit source]


The Inspectorate General of Military Police (Portuguese language: Inspetoria Geral das Polícias Militares ) - IGPM is a command element of the Brazilian Army, responsible for coordinating and conducting activities of control over the Military Police and Military Firefighters Corps of States.[16]
It is part of the Land Operations Command (Portuguese language: Comando de Operações Terrestres ) - COTER and its mission is:

  • The establishment of principles, guidelines and standards for the effective implementation of control and coordination of the Military Police under Command of the Army, through its Military Area Commands, Regions and other Major Military Command;
  • The control of the organization and legislation, personnel and equipment of military police, such as:
Weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, chemical agents, military equipment, vehicles, aircraft and boats.
  • Collaboration in studies aiming to rights, justice and guarantees of the Military Police, and the establishment of conditions for convening and mobilization;
  • Coordinating and monitoring compliance with the provisions of relevant State and Federal Legislation;
  • Conduct regular inspections.

Centros de Formação

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

  1. Emblem adopted at the First National Convention of the Military Police in 1957.
  2. Inspectorate General of Military Police (In Portuguese)
  3. Article 144 of Constitution of Brazil.
  4. Decree of December 10, 1801.
  5. Decree of May 13, 1809.
  6. Law of July 17, 1831.
  7. Law of October 10, 1931.
  8. Constitutional Reform of 1834, Article 15, § 11.
  9. Decree Law 8.660, January 14, 1946.
  10. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+br0134%29
  11. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+br0134%29
  12. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+br0134%29
  13. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+br0134%29
  14. Ordinance of the Ministry of the Army 340, October 4, 1971.
  15. National Secretariat of Public Safety. (in Portuguese)
  16. Article 22 of Constitution of Brazil.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Em Nome da Ordem: a constituição de aparatos policiais no universo luso-brasileiro (séculos XVIII e XIX); Regina Helena Martins de Faria; Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE) - Recife; 2007. (texto em pdf.)
  • A Polícia Militar de Mato Grosso - História e Evolução, 1835 a 1985; Ubaldo Monteiro.
  • Crônica da Brigada Militar Gaúcha; Hélio Moro Mariante; edição da Imprensa Official; 1972.
  • História da Polícia Militar de Pernambuco; Major Roberto Monteiro.
  • História do Batalhão de Segurança - A Polícia Militar do Rio Grande do Norte, de 1834 a 1968; Romulo C. Wanderley; edição Walter Pereira S.A. / A Livraria e Papelaria; 1969.
  • Episódios da História da PMPR - Volume I ao VII; Capitão João Alves da Rosa Filho; edição da Associação da Vila Militar; 2000.
  • Origens Históricas da Polícia Militar de Minas Gerais - volumes 1 e 2; Coronel Paulo René de Andrade; edição da Imprensa Official de Minas Gerais; 1985.
  • Raízes do Militarismo Paulista; Coronel Edilberto de Oliveira Melo; edição da Imprensa Official; 1982.
  • Soldados da Pátria, História do Exército Brasileiro 1889 - 1937; Frank D. McCann; Edição da Companhia de Letras; 2007.
  • Tropas Paulistas de Outrora; J. Wasth Rodrigues; edição do Governo do Estado de São Paulo; 1978.

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