This study addresses the police forces of Brazil and that of the United States of America in regard to its military nature. This dissertation makes many comparisons between the two, especially their military ethics and aesthetics aspects. The US police force in its municipal, state and federal scopes are analyzed and a correlation is then made to related activities within the police forces of Brazil. A brief analysis of the historical evolution of the two police models show how the Anglo-Saxon model helped shape the American police while the Brazilian military police descended from the French structure, also known as gendarmerie. Structure aspects and specific activities entrusted to each respective police and their functions are carefully described, such as the different admission requirements into the two police models. A combination of both inductive and deductive methods is used to further understand these concepts. The most important methodology applied here is the use of comparisons, obtained through field research conducted in the United States for a better comprehension. The overall conclusion shows the similarities between the two countries and their adopted police models, perceived throughout the article.

Keywords: Police studies. Brazilian police. Comparative police. American police.


The title of this research, “A COMPARATIVE POLICE STUDY: BRAZIL AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, is in the Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos sobre Polícia e Segurança Pública – within the Estudos sobre Polícia e Segurança Pública field of research – Estudos em Organizações Policiais.

The study addresses the police forces of Brazil and that of the United States of America (USA) in regard to its military nature. Comparisons are made between them in regard to their military ethics and aesthetics aspects, in an attempt to assist the debate on a dominant issue within political, academic and technical-professional contemporary milieu: should Brazil’s ostensible police remain military police or be demilitarized as shown recently in the USA? What are the differences and similarities between the police model of Brazil and that of the United States from a military ethics and aesthetics perspective, to benefit the end of such operations for its effectiveness?

An important aspect of current Brazilian society, such as public security, was analyzed with its main focus, cutting out the preventive-ostensive police, being front and center. In a nation that can reach a figure of sixty thousand (60,000) homicides a year and in which the number of policemen killed may reach over four hundred (400) a year (solely for being police), the organization of police forces and, consequently, its effectiveness in controlling the crime and disorder phenomenon, pari passu to protect and serve, may have crucial relevance. The importance of the subject matter for the military police, interna corporis, is due to the fact that this attribute, military condition, determines all of their very historical existence.

As for methods and techniques, the research used a combination of deductive and inductive methods. The first was used to test a hypothesis that points to military similarity between Brazilian and US police institutions, while the second was used for factual observation of the two realities for confirmation and corroboration, if any,

of the comparative hypothesis. The procedure used, according to the very nature of the research, was an exploratory method, due to limited amount of previous research – being essentially comparative and delimited to military ethics and aesthetics aspects. In technical terms, the research was developed based on documentary sources as well as field work. The documentary research was carried out referring to miscellaneous articles (books, scientific and opinion articles), websites of technical-professional police reference, journalistic articles and video reports. The fieldwork, conducted in a semi-structured and exploratory manner, included on-site observations made in the USA [3].

The research problem is: what are the differences and similarities between the Brazilian and the American police model from a military ethics and aesthetics perspective?

The hypothesis generated is: Brazilian and US police models are equivalent in military ethics and aesthetics.

The general objective of the research is to analyze, for the benefit of a comparative evaluation, the similarities between the military ethics and aesthetics of the Brazilian and the U.S. police model.

Specific Objectives:

Present a general concept of police and summarize its historical evolution in the two countries.

Highlight the concept of military ethics and aesthetics acknowledging their presence in the Brazilian and US police.

Identify the differences and similarities of the hierarchy as well as the police posts of the two countries.

List and describe the standard prerequisites to become a police officer in Brazil and in the USA.


2.1 Ascertain a universal concept of police and summarizing its historical evolution in the two countries

2.1.1 Generic concept of the policemen

“Police are henceforth defined as this sector of social organization primarily interested in maintaining good order, preventing or detecting criminal infractions” (MONET, 2002). Among the powers the police received, as defined by Max Weber, is the monopoly of legitimate coercion over a territory. The term police is generally associated with the service provided by a corporation within a territorial and legal limit. There are two historical police models, one in which the police are paramilitaries [4], in the case of the Anglo-Saxon countries, where, for historical and cultural reasons, police forces maintain military ethics and aesthetics, but are not military in the strict sense of the normative model that governs its Armed Forces and individuals. The American police model is inserted here. The other police model is the military one, in the case of the gendarmerie, derived from the Franco-Roman model and currently active in several countries such as Argentina, Chile, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, among others. In addition to the military police in these countries, there is the European Gendarmerie Force, with international missions. Military police based on this model are defined by the French dictionary, Larusse, as “military force to maintain order and public safety”. This is the police model implemented in Brazil.

2.1.2 Historical evolution of the United States police

The United States of America was colonized by England who passed on their traditions and culture which eventually formed the country.

On account of England have been a Roman province, London was founded by the Romans under the name of Londinium. With the fall of the Roman Empire and the passage of generations, due to the fact that the country was on an island, isolated cultural aspects formed. England opted for a police model distinct from the continental European model.

At the time of the formation of the American nation, as well as in Colonial Brazil, it was common for police services to be carried out by unpaid volunteers organized in militias. In the United States, watchmen or vigilantes were common, while in Brazil, gangsters, groups of men with the authority to monitor and arrest, was foreseen in the Manuelinas Ordinations, which in turn descended directly from the Roman Law.

It was common in England for people appointed by the king to enforce the law, collect taxes and prosecute crimes in cities or counties (shires); they were called shire reeve, and today they are known as sheriffs (DANTAS, 2008).

Evolução da polícia norte-americana durante o tempo.

Iconographic photograph of police history in the United States of America

Source [5]: History America

In 1667, King Louis XIV implemented in France the first police force, organized in the same way since the end of the Knights Templar era of the 14th century. This institution was ordered to police the City of Paris, the then largest city of the western world. The Royal Edict [6] was registered in parliament on March 15 of that year and may be considered the birth date of the modern police force. In that same document, the position of Lieutenant Général de Police (Lieutenant General of Police) was created, which would act as the Commander of this police force and whose attribution included “to assure public peace, tranquility and protection, expunge from the City of Paris those who may cause disturbances, take ownership of others’ belongings and provide every individual the ability to work and live in peace.

The news gained global attention and, with the increase of the population in the cities, the medieval model would become obsolete, encouraging changes to the French model. On March 15, 1667, Lieutenant General of Police Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie founded the first uniformed police force of the modern world, from which many of the other police officers descended. He also divided the City of Paris into sixteen (16) police districts, facilitating administration and policing. After the bloody and catastrophic French Revolution, Napoleon reorganized the police force, giving it the gendarmaries form, the current military police model of the contemporary world, including the military police of Brazil, Latin America and Europe.

In 1829, the then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Robert Peel, created the Metropolitan Police of London (also known as Scotland Yard), considered the first modern Anglo-Saxon police. As a basis for comparison, the Royal Guard Police, created in Brazil by Dom João VI, was founded in 1809 based on the French model. The British police was created to be just another body of the judicial system. Its mission, quoted in the body of law read: “Maintain the peace and arrest criminals to ensure that the courts can charge them in accordance with the law”. In 1863 the Metropolitan Police of London received its badges and 1884 whistles that could be heard from a great distance. The uniforms should be in the color blue to show that they did not belong to the Armed Forces, which in turn used the color red. The posts were set up with different names from those used by the military, with the exception of the ranking sergeant. The Metropolitan Police of London served as a model for several US police departments, as well as in those established in its colonies.

In the United States, the informal police model still prevailed for many years; they were the so-called constables (constabularies), who carried out policing, enforced the law, and acted as administrative prosecutors for the city. This continued even after the American Revolution in 1776. However, in 1830, the idea of ​​a uniformed police force, which had been a reality for many years in Europe and South America, arrived in the United States. In 1838 the first modern American police was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, followed by New York City in 1845 and Albany, both in the state of New York, and in 1851 Chicago, Illinois. In 1880 almost all the large US cities already had a uniformed and centralized police force in place.

However, throughout the end of the 19th century and dawn of the 20th century, several police officers based on the English model in the USA, underwent a serious crisis of credibility having suffered direct political interference, causing inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of professionalism and high index of corruption and violence. In the mid-19th century, the police model had intensified the unification of the various police departments located in large American cities, municipalities and counties, greatly facilitating police work, as they reduced the problems between corporations, the police costs and increased efficiency. This unification marks the birth of modern police in the United States of America.

Mission of the United States police

The three basic missions of police corporations in the USA

  1. Maintain order. Carry out efforts to maintain order and prevent behaviors that could harm or inconvenience others. This is the classic definition of the ostensible uniformed policing.
  • Ensure compliance with the law. The police undertake the task of having to identify and arrest perpetrators that commit a crime foreseen in the legislation.
  • Serve the population. Services that the police corporations provide in its daily patrolling are numerous, among them are: first aid, address and tourist information, search and referral of lost children, serve as educators and models for children and young people. An example of education is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE program), which acts in a similar manner to the Brazilian program: Programa de Educação e Resistência as Drogas (PROERD).

The references aforementioned are enforced by, roughly, more than eighteen thousand (18,000) existing police officers.

2.1.3 Historical evolution of the ostensive Brazilian police

In Brazil, the current military police are based on the French model, gendarmerie, and use the military organization structure. However, the Military Division of the Royal Police, known in Portuguese as Guarda Real de Polícia (GRP), is the current Military Police of the Federal District, founded in 1809 with four military corporations, three of them of infantry and one of cavalry, with uniforms, weaponry and organization identical to those of Lisbon, Portugal.

The purpose of the creation of the military police in Brazil, in the case of Rio de Janeiro, the First Capital of the Empire, was to provide public safety and tranquility, due to the fact that the city was growing in population and commerce. With time, Brazilian police maintained a military format of organization and of ethics and aesthetic, going so far as being sent to the War of Paraguay, where they fought soldiers of the Imperial Army. In the 1930s, a decree signed by President Getúlio Vargas changed the name of the police force of Rio de Janeiro to its current name — Military Police of the Federal District (PMDF), name that remains the same today, even though the capital of the country has been Brasilia since 1960.

Reproduction of the Imperial Decree of May 13, 1809, which created the Royal Police Guard.

Mission of the Brazilian police

The mission of the Brazilian police is defined in article 144, paragraph 5 of the Federal Constitution of 1988:

“§ 5 “The military police shall be responsible for ostensible police and the preservation of public order […]”. In this constitutional definition, it is perceived that the military police have as their mission the preservation of public order and ostensive police activities, which means that the two missions of the Brazilian police are directly similar to the two missions defined in its founding decree of May 13, 1809 signed by Prince Regent Dom João VI.

2.2 Pointing out a concept of military ethics and aesthetics and identifying their presence in Brazilian and US police

2.2.1 Definition of military ethics and aesthetics

According to the treatise Aurélio, ethics is defined as “a set of rules of conduct” and aesthetics is “what relates to the general sense of beauty and of the feeling that it awakens in us”.

2.2.2 Ethics and aesthetics of the American police system

In order to understand the American police reality, two fundamental aspects of the country’s military culture must be emphasized, which in turn extended to the police corporations.

The first of these aspects pertains to the military ethics, which, as a consequence to the United States having been formed and grown under wars and bloody battles, as a matter of survival and pride, a strong military ethic was molded within the armed forces, where the terms honor, bravery, commitment and responsibility acquired a greater consideration than for other countries whose history was not scarred by wars. It is for this reason that former military have priority during the admission process to become part of the American police force. It is presumed that veterans who want to become police officers have already undergone military training, therefore, have already acquired desirable traits from the corporate’s perspective. Some of which include: honesty, dedication, abnegation, sense of honor and morals, as well as knowledge, techniques, skills and attitudes difficult to acquire outside the military system.

The second concerns the aesthetics of the American police officer, so similar to that of the military that, in some police, especially state police, they merge, becoming more military than paramilitary. As a result of this, American law enforcement officers always strive to be well uniformed, maintain self-control, speak in a refined manner and strictly comply with the laws and given orders. All this added to the carefully preserved military traditions, such as the salute, short hair, addressing superiors as “Sir” and “Ma’am”, among others. The same is true in Brazil when a non-military police officer wants to appear more professional and biased within specialized groups, wearing military uniforms, equipment and techniques. This occurs, for example, in the Special Police Operations Departments (Departamentos de Operações Especiais das Polícias Civis – DOE) and in the Tactical Operations Command (Comando de Operações Táticas do Departamento de Polícia Federal – COT).

American State Police in formation, saluting.

Source [7]: North Carolina Department of Public Safety

One of the most important aspects within military aesthetics is greetings among members of the corporation by means of salutations, which is nothing more than a gesture that indicates appreciation and respect, which is also rendered to symbolic entities, such as the flag or a deceased fellow, which also replaces the handshake and verbal greetings. Salutation is widely used throughout American municipals, states and federal police.

American municipal police in formation, saluting.

Source [8] : New York City Police Academy

2.2.3 The ethics and aesthetics of the Brazilian police system

Due to the fact that Brazilian police are military by nature, military ethics and aesthetics are defined and reinforced as pillars of the corporations.

Military ethics acts as a protective wall for doctrines and values foreign to those associated with military activities, whose traditions date back to the earliest professional and disciplined Roman armies. The ethics within the Brazilian military police has a defining role in all of the public security professional’s life, in the case of the officers, a perpetual commitment, who, even after receiving their letters patent, never leave the military officer status, and may only be transferred to the military reserve, with or without pay, or retire. In addition to that, there are codes of ethics of the police, their military regulations and the Military Penal Code, which covers all aspects of their professional life and, in some cases, their personal life. A term widely used in these codes and regulations is pundonor, defined as the decorum of the class, a suitable military term, and has great meaning in case the corporation becomes tarnished by behaviors that denigrates their image and military honor. In such cases, the military, including the officers, may be “excluded from the ranks” and have their letters patent revoked.

The military aesthetic of the Brazilian police strictly follows the military image with its uniform culture — uniforms, badges, medals, posts, graduations, salutation, short hair, well spoken, sense of honor and the most important values: those of discipline and of hierarchy, pillars that have sustained military corporations since its foundation.

Brazilian military policemen in formation, saluting

Source [9]: Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro

2.3 Identifying the differences and similarities of the hierarchy and police stations of the two countries

2.3.1 The US police structure regarding station hierarchy and rank graduations

The police model used in the U.S. regarding station hierarchy and rank graduations, usually are paramilitary or quasimilitary[10]. In spite of the large number of municipal, state and federal police officers (17,985), the most common ranking model, from the highest rank to the lowest is:

Chief of Police, Police Commissioner, Police Superintendent or Sheriff; Assistant Chief of Police, Assistant Police Commissioner, Assistant Police Superintendent or Deputy Sheriff; Colonel, Inspector or Commander; Major or Assistant Inspector; Captain; Lieutenant; Sergeant; Detective, Investigator; Corporal; Soldier, Police officer, Deputy Sheriff.

The vast majority of US state police use “Colonel” as the patent name of the Police Chief’s senior executive officer (Chief of Police). Usually within the municipal or county police, Sheriff, Commissioner or Director is used. US police colonels use a gold eagle insignia and a silver oak leaf for Lieutenant Colonel, in accordance to the American armed forces model.

Majors, or Assistant Inspectors, use a golden insignia of an oak leaf, similar to those used in the armed forces. In Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia, Majors oversee and command police stations.

Captains use two gold bars and oversee a police station or a small unit responsible for areas or types of policing in criminal investigation cases or patrolling. It is usually the Police Captains who command the policing of entire regions of large cities such as New York, in the state of New York.

Lieutenants use a single gold bar and supervise two to three or more sergeants. They can oversee a Police Station for an entire shift (equivalent to an Independent Military Police Company in Brazil) or specialized crimes, such as homicide or narcotics division.

Sergeants use three chevrons and is a police officer who oversees a shift of a smaller police department and areas or neighborhoods of a larger police department. They are also responsible for criminal investigation teams and are responsible for solving crimes specific to their operation field. In some states, such as that of the state of New Jersey, there are intermediate ranks of sergeants, as occurs in the US military and in the Brazilian military police, for example, Second Sergeants, Staff Sergeant, and First Sergeant, Sergeant First Class.

Detective, Inspector or Investigator is a criminal investigation expert within the police corporation. There are no incomplete-duty police officers in the US, they all complete a full cycle, which means they patrol, are first responders, arrest, prosecute and investigate, unlike Brazil. The US police keep their own criminal and occurrence files, as well as serve arrest warrants and actively participate alongside the public prosecutor’s office and with the justice of operations of organized crime control.

A police investigation specialist wears civilian clothing. In some police, there is a unique rank within a specific post and higher salary. Meanwhile, in other police forces, such as the one in the City of New York, there is no badge or salary distinction; the police officer works undercover only while serving in the investigation division. This division has police officers from all patents working together, along the lines of communicating with the intelligence departments and covert policing of Brazilian military police. The investigative police officer has higher authority when on duty at crime scenes.

Corporals use two stripes.

Officer, Deputy Sheriff or Soldier use a badge with one stripe.

In some police, such as in New York City, officers as of lieutenant onwards, wear a white shirt instead of the blue or black worn by those in lower posts. Senior officers or senior or senior police officers, use gold oak leaf motifs on the visor, as do Brazilian military police ranked Major or above.

In order to advance from ranking Soldier, or police officer, to the rank of Captain, several tests and years of service are usually required, whereupon, a recommendation from the Commander of the police force will be determinant. For positions below ranking Captain in the event of a vacancy, promotion is usually granted solely by recommendation of a Commander, Chief of Police or Sheriff. Police in the United States are not granted promotions unless a corresponding vacancy becomes available, be it through promotion, resignation, retirement or death.

The U.S. Coast Guard has insignias and graduation ceremonies equivalent to that of the US Navy and British Royal Navy.

Image 1: US police rank and badge hierarchy

Source [11]: US police rank hierarchy

US municipal police

Local police, which include municipalities, counties and sheriff departments, are the backbone of American public security system. The average American citizen characterizes the term “police” as a police organization that serves its municipality or county of residence (DANTAS, 2008). The absolute majority of local police departments (91% of them) have less than fifty (50) police officers and 90% of these institutions oversee populations of less than 25,000 inhabitants (idem).

The State Police of the United States of America

In the United States, State Police are police corporations under the authority of each state’s governor, with legal authority to conduct ostensible policing activities as well as criminal investigations within their respective state. These police, organized in a military demeanor, whose discipline and uniform resemble the military structure more than that of the local police, carry out various assignments. The most common responsibilities include: perform policing outside the municipalities, Vermont is an exception; patrol interstates and expressways built and maintained by the state; safeguard state Capitols; protect the state governor; train new police officers in case municipal police are small and lack police academy; provide municipal police forces with technical and technological support; and coordinate task forces organized to combat criminal cases or disasters, which, due to its complexity and involvement of several municipalities, require a concentrated and coordinated effort with prompt state government response.

There are fifty (50) State Police in the USA and twenty-two (22) are called “State Police”.

The U.S. Coast Guard

This is the most military police of North America. Founded and maintained as a gendarmerie, this police corporation has maritime police and airborne rescue as its missions. Acting along the entire American coastline, the U.S. Coast Guard became notorious for its efficiency and discipline and is always honorably mentioned in books and movies in the USA as an icon of selfless heroism. For the purpose of comparison, it is as if the Military Police of the State of São Paulo (PMSP), (similar number of active troops, each with an average of one hundred thousand (100,000) men), only cared for Brazilian territorial waters, patrolling missions, police inspections of vessels and search and rescue missions at sea. The comparison is pertinent since the PMSP undertake police, rescue and fire department assignments, in all its aspects as a single corporation endowed with its own doctrine and training. The same applies to the U.S. Coast Guard, but it is organized and maintained by the federal government. The United States Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the country and is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In case of a war, as occurred during the First and Second World War, it becomes subordinate to the US Navy. Created in 1790, the Coast Guard is accountable for the patrolling and protection of rivers and seas of the United States. It is classified as a responsive military force of public safety professionals who must protect and patrol all ports, rivers, coastal seas and high seas. With these attributes, the U.S. Coast Guard has an instrumental value in terms of maritime and river safety. In 2012, it had more than 43,000 active military personnel, more than 8,000 reservists, more than 8,800 civilian employees and more than 30,000 volunteers.

U.S. Coast Guard officers in formation, marching with rifles

Source [12]: Clay Maitland

2.3.2 The Brazilian police structure regarding station hierarchy and rank graduations

The Brazilian state police

The Brazilian police structure regarding station hierarchy and rank graduations is military in its entirety.

The Brazilian preventive police model is based on the state structure, with military police force for each federative entity; Brazil has twenty-seven (27) – twenty-six (26) states and one Federal District.

Brazilian military police officers have badges that hold the same symbolism and logic of the Brazilian Army (Exército Brasileiro), since the first are reserves and auxiliary forces of the Army. For this reason, the insignia of the Colonel has three stars with four yellow tips, that of the Lieutenant Colonel are two gold stars and one silver star, Majors use one gold star and two silver stars. The group that uses gold stars is called “circle of senior police officers” (círculo de oficiais superiors) and are entrusted with command and subcommand roles, in addition to being responsible for senior corporate management.

Colonels usually work with General Command, staff and senior operational management, administrative, logistics and personnel (commanders, chiefs, directors).

Lieutenant Colonels manage battalion commander positions with Majors acting as Deputy Commanders and Head of General operational headquarters Staff. The battalions are organized in a classic military manner, whose traditions date back to the Roman Empire period, with at least three operational corporations, and a Platoon and Department Command. The battalions, depending on their sizes, have a staff of between three hundred fifty (350) and one thousand (1,000) men.

The captain’s insignia has three silver stars. This circle refers to intermediate officers. Such policemen command police corporations and battalions. Usually the directions obey the Roman logic, from which the position of captain descends directly from “centurion” or the one that commands a hundred (100) men. For this reason, battalions usually have three or more corporations, each with one hundred (100) police officers under the command of a captain.

The first lieutenant wears a badge with two silver stars, while the second lieutenant, one. They are in the so-called circle of non-commissioned officers. They work directly with commanding troops inspecting and supervising operational service. The first lieutenant occupies the position of Deputy commander of the corporation, Captain’s subordinate, and has a second lieutenant with his aid and replacement. In a corporation, there are two or more lieutenants. The lieutenant is responsible for the supervision and coordination of operational service and training of the troops while complying with a work timetable for the field and perform administrative tasks in the organization. The other lieutenants of the police unit command a platoon, having the sergeant as his aid. The platoon may have staff ranging between 19 and 33 military police.

The aspirant insignia has a five-pointed gold star. Golden patents can only be used by those within the circle of officers in the first and last career post. Due to the fact that aspirant is a probationary stage, where he “does not take up place in space”, (military police jargon), which means that an aspirant cannot answer for the unit or carry out other acts exclusive to officers, but may act as assistant or aide to lieutenants. Usually the length of stay is of only six months.

Even though the cadet is considered a patent of the military police hierarchy, it is in fact, a student of Officer Training Course (Curso de Formação de Oficiais – CFO) and, as a such, has duties linked to school activities specific to the training course. In some states, the CFO is titled as Bachelor of Public Safety or Police Science, as is the case of the PMDF.

The Second Lieutenant is rank that represents the pinnacle of a police career [13]. This position is usually granted after more than 25 years of service. The Second Lieutenant commands the subsections within the military police units, such as the supply or reserve arsenal warehouses. This rank’s badge is a golden triangle.

The First Sergeant uses five stripes and their responsibilities usually include assisting in the administrative department of the units. Within the corporations, they are called acting Sergeant (Sargenteante) and are responsible for the duty roster, absenteeism control, medical certificates, vacations, etc. They are responsible, with supervision of the Commander, for the books of effective personnel fillings and management within corporations and their allocation maps, documents that must be sent every week to headquarters. These are then assessed to determine the difference between expecting, existing, availability and readiness of personnel and funds, for immediate usage.

The Second Sergeant uses four stripes and their duties normally include assisting the Officer, the Commander of Headquarters’ Guards, and the First Sergeant in the corporations, sections and subsections. He may hold the position of First Sergeant in the absence or non-existence of one in the unit.

The Third Sergeant uses three stripes and within the operational units, is the radio patrol, police station, and dispatch commander, among others. Their activities are linked to operational road activities with direct contact with the troops and Officer on duty.

The Police Guard wears two stripes and is responsible for operational police duties, such as radio patrol commandant, working in the administrative sections and subsections and corporations as a typist, driver, guard, radio-operator, etc.

The Soldier has one stripe and is the first position of the law enforcement career. Their mission is policing the streets with roles directly linked to benefit the end of such operations. They may be radio patrol drivers, patrolmen, headquarter guards or conduct policing activities in general.

The Police Recruit does not wear a badge, but will hold a military police rank after graduating into the corporation through the Training Course of Pre-Police (Curso de Formação de Praças – CFP). Such rank lasts only as long as the program, where he will then be promoted to Soldier at the end of this phase.

Badges and ranks [14], and its respective symbols, are the same in all Brazilian military police.

Brazilian military police hierarchy, ranks and graduations.

2.4. Enumerating and describing the prerequisites to become a police officer in Brazil and in the US

Source:[15] Hierarchy within military police and firemen

2.4.1 Requirements to be a police officer in the USA

The American ostensible police officers, who execute services equivalent to that of the Brazilian military police, prioritize the admission of war veterans to become police men, since it is assumed that if the individual wants to become a police officer, he has already been trained by the armed forces whose ethos[16] has already made him acquire desirable characteristics, such as honesty, dedication, abnegation, sense of honor and morality.

Virtually every American police follows a law [17] which regulates the minimum requirements for individual candidates who apply to become a police officer. In addition to such minimum requirements, physical and driving examinations are required. After a series of tests and background check into the officer’s life prior to admission into the police force, he then presents himself to the police academy to begin the Officer Training Course.

Minimum requirements for admission to a police academy:

· Be a US citizen or have a permanent resident visa;

· Hold a High School degree. For some institutions, a University degree in criminal justice is necessary. Candidates who served in the Armed Forces and had regular termination, may use their certifications during the evidence qualification phase; no dishonorable discharged from the military will be accepted;

· Be in physical, medical and psychological fit conditions;

· Not have been convicted by the justice system;

· Have a driver’s license and no history of serious fines or have already lost the right to drive for any reason;

· Be considered a person of high character and moral;

· Have no history of criminal record, not be a user of illegal drugs or be an alcoholic;

· No history of violence or mental illness;

· Not be considered, for any reason, a risk to the police and to society;

· Be legally able to possess and handle firearms;

· In some police corporations, especially state corporations, a lie detector is required.

To be admitted to the US Coast Guard you must be 18 years old or 17 years old with proper parental consent.

2.4.2 Requirements to become a police officer in Brazil

According to the Federal Constitution of 1988, to occupy a position within the public police of Brazil, a governmental examination is mandatory. As a result, all requirements for participation is the exam and its selection criteria stem from specific infra-constitutional legislation published in the Official Gazette.

In general, a written exam is required for the first phase; in the second stage, a physical fitness test; in the third, a series of medical exams; and the fourth phase, a series of psychological exams. In addition to these minimum requirements, a conduction of background check prior to one’s approval into the police force and submission of educational certificates are required as well.

Minimum requirements to be admitted for the PMDF:

· Be a Brazilian citizen;

· Hold a higher education degree in any area;

· No criminal record or be a user of illicit drugs.

Upon meeting the requirements described above, the approved candidate is incorporated into the police, however, in order to be promoted to the first level of the career, successfully completion of the CFO or the CFP is necessary.


The police models implemented in Brazil and in the United States are equivalent as far as their values represented within their military ethics and aesthetics are concerned. Such values, to the American police, are above its structure and operation. The police of both countries follow a strict hierarchy and discipline organization, embodied in each of their symbols.

The research determined, whereby the distinct historical developments of the two police models are considered, the Anglo-Saxon model in the US and the French-gendarmerie model in Brazil, are equivalent. Common characteristics between the two models include: a physical for admission, use of military uniforms, uniquely military hierarchical subordination, united order, posture, among others.

Characteristically, the greater the North American police forces, the more militarized they are. Nevertheless, the North Carolina State Police (State Troopers), with a total of only two-thousand officers, is a heavily militarized police, similar to all American police forces which are greatly staffed.

The Coast Guard of the United States is a military police, in the full sense of the word. With a staff of almost one-hundred thousand officers and of compatible responsibilities, guards and protects the entire maritime coast of the United States of America. They also actively participate in the defense activities of the country, subject to remaining subordinate to an armed force, in this case, the Marines of the United States of America.

Author of the Research:

Olavo Freitas Mendonça

Captain of the Military Police of the Federal District (PMDF) with eighteen (18) years of service in the fields of ostensive policing, information technology, transit and media. Bachelor of Political Sciences from the Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais (ISCP), 2000. Criminology Lecturer at ISCP.

Advisor of the Research:

George Felipe Lima Dantas

Master and Doctor of Education from George Washington University (GWU), in Washington, D.C. (USA). Public security Consultant, having already acted as post-graduate coordinator in the field, research adviser, professor, lecturer and author.


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[3] Foram feitas duas viagens à serviço aos EUA. Elas estão descritas no Boletim do Comando Geral da PMDF número 050 de 13 março de 2012.

[4] Segundo o dicionário Aurélio: “Que imita a estrutura e a disciplina do exército, sem dele fazer parte”.

[5] Disponível em Acesso em 23 fev. 2016.

[6] Edito Real equivale a um decreto ou lei promulgada.

[6] Edito Real equivale a um decreto ou lei promulgada.

[7] Disponível em Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[8] Disponível em . Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[9] Disponível em Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[10] “Quasi-military” é um termo que define uma corporação com quase todos os requisitos de uma força militar plena.

[11] Disponível em Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[12] Disponível em

Regimental Review of the US Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets
Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[13] As carreiras policiais militares, assim como as militares em geral, possuem duas carreiras distintas, a de oficiais, que comporta as patentes de gestão e comando, e a de praças, que comporta as graduações de execução dentro das corporações.

[14] Patentes são as insígnias dos oficiais policiais militares e graduações as das praças policiais militares.

[15] Disponível em < https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarquia_na_Pol%C3%ADcia_e_Corpo_de_Bombeiros_Militar.> Acesso em 17 fev. 2016.

[16] Conjunto dos costumes e hábitos fundamentais, no âmbito do comportamento (instituições, afazeres etc.) e da cultura (valores, ideias ou crenças), característicos de uma determinada coletividade.

[17] EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY ACT, Lei de Igualdade de Oportunidade no Emprego.


Scientific paper published by the Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais do Distrito Federal as Undergratuation Course Conclusion (Trabalho de Conclusão de Curso) of the Post Graduate em Ciências Policiais. The printed physical copy can be found in the Library of CETESP/PMDF.

The article was published on the following websites:

FENEME (Federação Nacional dos Militares Estaduais) no link:

FENEME (Federação Nacional dos Militares Estaduais) no link:


FENAPEF (Federação Nacional dos Policiais Federais) no link:

SINDIPOL DF (Sindicato dos Policiais Federais do Distrito Federal) no link:


SINDIPOL Bahia (Sindicato dos Policiais Federais do Estado da Bahia) no link:


SINPOL Piauí (Sindicato dos Policiais Civis do Estado do Piauí) no link:




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