Military Police (Brazil)

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Military Police
Polícia Militar
Brasão Nacional PPMM.PNG
Insignia of the Military Police used since 1957.[1]
Active 1809
Country  Brazil
Type Gendarmerie
Size 450,000 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 - 2010 Rio de Janeiro Security Crisis
Commander Governors of the States
Ceremonial chief General-Commander of each PM

Military Police (Portuguese: Polícia Militar, IPA: [puˈlisjɐ miliˈtaʁ], also known as PM, [peˈẽmi]) are a type of preventive state police in every state of Brazil. The Military Police units, which have their own formations, rules and uniforms depending on the state, are responsible for maintaining public order across the country including the Federal District and its capital, Brasília. Deployed solely to act as a deterrent against the commission of crime, units do not conduct criminal investigations. Detective work, forensics and prosecutions are undertaken by a state's Civil Police.

In 1999 the National Public Security Force (Portuguese: Força Nacional de Segurança Pública) was created to handle any significant security crisis. The unit, which is composed of the most qualified Military Police personnel from all federal states, can only be deployed through the express command of a state governor.

All state Military Police and Military Firefighters Corps are classed as 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. But they remain distinct from the provosta belonging to the other services within the Brazilian military. The corps Army Police (Portuguese: Polícia do Exército, PE) for the Army, Navy Police (Portuguese: Polícia da Marinha) for the Navy, and Air Force Police (Portuguese: Polícia da Aeronáutica, PA) for the Air Force.


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



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.[10]

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.[10]

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.[10]

The Military Police is organized into battalions (Portuguese: Batalhão de Polícia Militar), companies (Portuguese: Companhia de Polícia Militar), platoons (Portuguese: Pelotão de Polícia Militar), and subdivided into detachments (Portuguese: 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: Regimento de Polícia Montada), subdivided into squadrons (Portuguese: Esquadrão de Polícia Montada) and platoons of mounted police.


Throughout Brazil the Military Police is known by the acronym PM (for Policia Militar), followed by the abbreviation of the State. Except in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, where the unit is known as BM, (for Brigada Militar, "Military Brigade").

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


Military Police of the São 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. 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.

  • Forces 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.


The Military Police of the Brazilian States have almost the same hierarchical classification[11] 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 O4.PNG
First Sergeant
(Primeiro Sargento)
Second Sergeant
(Segundo Sargento)
Third Sergeant
(Terceiro Sargento)


Main types of policing

Ratio of Military Police to Population

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 and Paraná the numbers of the Military Firefighters Corps are included in the figures for Military Police.[12]

National Force of Public Safety

File:Fns.jpg 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: Força Nacional de Segurança Pública; FNSP).

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

The Inspectorate General of Military Police (Portuguese: 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.[13]
It is part of the Land Operations Command (Portuguese: 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.

Armored Vehicles of Brazilian Military Police

Name Origin Type Quantity Used by Note Photo
Lenco BearCat  United States Law enforcement vehicle 1 25px PMGO Ordered Nash Bearcat.jpg
Paramount Group Maverick  South Africa Armored security vehicle 6 20px PMERJ 6 were purchased vehicles]. 150px
Wolf Armoured Vehicle  Israel Armored security vehicle 4 25px PMESP Ordered Zeev-jeep002.jpg
Ford Cargo 815  Brazil Armored personnel carrier 12 20px PMERJ The more police armored known in use in Brazil, dubbed "caveirão" (Big Skull) used extensively to combat narcofratico in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Armored car transport values modified for police use. Blindado-CORE.JPG
Volkswagen Cargo 1722  Brazil Armored personnel carrier 6 20px PMERJ 9 were purchased vehicles, three were desgnados PCERJ. Armored car transport values modified for police use. Dubbed "caveirinha" (Litle Skull), in a reference to "Caveirão". 150px
Plasan Guarder  Israel Armored personnel carrier/Riot control vehicle 6 25px PMESP Ordered
Massari Centurion  Brazil Armored personnel carrier/Riot control vehicle 4
25px PMESP
25px PMDF
Being disabled 150px
Centigon Centurion  Brazil Armored personnel carrier/Riot control vehicle 2 25px PMDF In operation
Hatehof MAN TGM 18.34 Folder  Israel Riot control vehicle 4 25px PMESP Ordered 150px
Mercedes-Benz Autolife Troia  Brazil Armored personnel carrier 1
20px PMPR
20px PMSE
20px PMBA
Civil police of São Paulo State also uses a vehicle of this model. Armored car transport values modified for police use. 150px
Amalcaburio Alcatraz  Brazil Armored personnel carrier/Riot control vehicle 2 20px PMMG
Steel Force  Brazil Armored personnel carrier/Riot control vehicle 1
25px PMDF
20px PMAM
20px PMBA
20px PMCE
20px BMRS
20px PMPR
20px PMMT
20px PMMG
20px PMRN
20px PMPE
20px PMERJ
Vehicles donated by the federal government 150px

Helicopters of Brazilian Military Police

Name Origin Type Quantity/Used by Note Photo
Helibras Esquilo  Brazil Light utility helicopter 21 - 25px PMESP
2 - 25px PMGO
6 - 20px PMERJ
4 - 25px PMES
5 - 20px PMBA
? - 20px PMSC
? - 20px PMMG
? - 20px BMRS
2 - 25px PMDF
5 - 20px PMMA
? - 20px PMPE
AgustaWestland AW119 Koala  Italy Light utility helicopter 1 - 25px PMGO
2 - 20px PMSC
Eurocopter EC130  Brazil/ France Light utility helicopter 2 - 20px PMPR 150px
Bell 206  United States Light utility helicopter 2 - 20px PMPR 150px
Sikorsky S-300  United States trainer helicopter 2 - 25px PMESP
1 - 20px PMERJ
1 - 20px BMRS
Bell Huey II  United States Armored helicopter/Multipurpose utility helicopter 1 - 20px PMERJ 150px
Eurocopter EC145  Germany Medium utility helicopter 1 - 20px PMMA
3 - 20px PMBA
? - 20px PMCE
1 - 20px PMERJ
AgustaWestland AW109  Italy SAR/utility helicopter 1 - 25px PMESP AW109-Power-Agusta-Westland.jpg


See also


  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. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3
  11. Ordinance of the Ministry of the Army 340, October 4, 1971.
  12. National Secretariat of Public Safety. (in Portuguese)[dead link]
  13. Article 22 of Constitution of Brazil.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.


  • 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.