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 | Ivonaldo Alexandre/ Gazeta do Povo
| Foto: Ivonaldo Alexandre/ Gazeta do Povo

Maritza Haisi took office at the head of the Homicide Unit a week ago. She has already occupied the position between January and October 2011. The reporters of Gazeta do Povo who did the series Crime without punishment and published statistics on homicides in Curitiba these past days, interviewed Haisi in order to find out what could be done to improve the current situation. The head of the Homicide Unit says that the statistics collected by the reporters do not pay tribute to the work she did in 2011.

According to the statistics, during first three months of 2011, the first witness statement was taken 88 days after the crime on average, and the inquiry was set up 50 days after the homicide. She says that this is due to a period of transition and that today, with more personal, these figures are improving.

What can be done to improve the efficiency of the Homicide Unit?The Homicide Unit evolved a lot over the past ten years, especially regarding the number of personal. In 2011, when I assumed the position, we had about half the number of personal we have today. We see that, taking into account the current workload, the personnel is still the key issue. The number of homicides in Curitiba remains high and this creates an accumulation of services, which interferes directly in the progress of the investigation.

Which areas are currently suffering from a lack of personnel?All of them do. But today, we are facing predominantly a lack of police chiefs and desk sergeants. This does not mean that the number of investigators is satisfactory either. It does not meet the demand and does even not enable us to look into older inquiries.

To what extent these older cases are more difficult to solve?There is the "48 hours rule": the first 48 hours are crucial to collect the first information. As more time goes by, the harder it becomes to solve the homicide. Material evidence is no longer there, people are no longer localized and the memories of the witness are no longer so accurate.

The "Honre", a group that only focuses on older cases, was created during your time as the head of the Unit. Was the idea to solve these crimes so as to start working with the most recent ones? We have operational police chiefs working on the most recent cases. There are homicides which were committed recently and that still fall into the 48 hour rule during which the most significant material evidence can be found. Therefore the police chiefs dedicate themselves more to these cases than to the inquiries set up a few years ago, with lower chance to be solved. What resulted from this was that the most ancient cases usually ended up left out due to the lack of personal and the workload. If there is a team that not necessarily is on duty, with a fresh mind to work with theses inquiries – those which are more likely to be solved.

What is the current situation of Honre?We are discussing with the general chief of the Criminal Investigation Unit. We first discussed the reorganization of the districts of each police chief. There is a serious lack of police chiefs in the State of Paraná nowadays. The Secretary informed us that there currently are some districts without police chiefs. For now, I´m assuming Honre.

Regarding your time as the head of the Homicide Unit, we collected data from January to March 2011. The inquiries on average took 50 days to be set up and the first witness statement was taken on average 88 days after the crime. Is it possible to improve these figures?They have already improved. I have been prejudiced with this study. When I took office in 2011, the Unit was suffering from a lack of personnel and had just dealt with a year with a large number of homicides which was 2010. When there is transition in the unit, as it was the case in January 2011, it is obvious that the work ends up being done at a slower pace. In 2011, the figures improved. We implemented a new methodology, which was the segmentation of Curitiba in new districts. We used studies carried out in 2009 and 2010 and thus divided the city in four districts. We created teams assigned exclusively to work in these areas, with police chiefs, investigators and desk sergeants. The statistics improved because we have managed to gather the information.

Why is this important?A lot of homicides are linked to one another. Before 2011, we had a system of shifts. The information was lost and we did not always manage to cross information. In first hand, we are focusing on the information related to groups of criminals. Then, we work so as to optimize the personal.

Police chief Rubens Recalcatti said that the reorganization of Police districts was hard to operate due to permanent shift of Police chiefs.We need to go back to where the investigation was interrupted, even though the work is done by a group of people. If one the investigators stay out of the inquiry, there still are four or five people who know where the investigation is heading to.

Our study of the 2011 data, which contains 180 cases, shows that two thirds of the inquiries do not have material evidence and had on average four witness statements per inquiry.There are cases which do not contain material evidence in addition to the necropsy and the crime scene reports. Sometimes, there is no ballistic or other potential evidence such as the analysis of electric equipment or security camera footage. When there were, these evidences were attached to the inquiries. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to collect material evidence. We tend to improve on that matter. In 2011, we had equipment from the IML which was damaged and evidence could not be analyzed. Regarding witness statements, their number varies depending on each investigation. There are investigations which contain up to twenty witness statements and did not bring any result. Others have only three witness statements and were solved. There are a lot of cases without a single witness to be heard. We also have to deal with "the code of silence". There are cases that families are not interested in solving.

Are there less investigated cases due to the fact that they are drug-related, for example?No. The investigation must be the same. Our role is not to carry discriminatory investigations. But they are the hardest cases to investigate. Passion or money-motivated crimes are easier to solve, there are people who can speak out and who are not subjected to diary violent situations linked to drug trafficking. We often have to select cases according to the volume of the work and not according to their importance. It is impossible to investigate meticulously every single case, therefore, we may give more importance to cases that are more likely to be solved.

Let us imagine that crime resolution is improving. Would this have an impact on the homicide rate? Do you think that the number of cases could drop on the short-term? I believe so. When you manage to solve a crime and take its author to jail, it has a repressive as well as a preventive function. If it brings the idea that people will be held accountable, then it will have a preventive effect. But this is not enough. We need a strong narcotics police department, a strong women protection police department (Delegacia da Mulher). If there are less families suffering from violence, it will have an impact too.

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