Brazilian Federal Highway Police

Brazilian Federal Highway Police
December 23 22:48 2010 Print This Article

The Brazilian Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal or PRF) is a federal law enforcement agency, subordinate to the Ministry of Justice, whose main function is fighting crime on Brazilian federal roads and highways, as well as monitoring and supervising vehicular traffic, although it has also taken on duties that go beyond its

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original authority, such as action within Brazilian cities and forests in conjunction with other public safety agencies.

It was subordinate to the old National Department of Roadways (Departamento Nacional de Estradas de Rodagem or DNER), now the National Department of Transport Infrastructure (Departamento Nacional de Infra-Estrutura de Transportes or DNIT), until the publication of Law 8,028 of 12 April 1990, which redefined the structure of the Brazilian executive branch.
Its competences are defined by article 144 of the Federal Constitution and by Law 9,503 (Brazilian Traffic Code), by Decree 1655 of 3 October 1995 and by its internal regulation, approved by Ministerial Decree 1,375 of 2 August 2007.

The title patrolman no longer exists as of 1998. Members of the PRF are divided into four classes: agent, operational agent, special agent, and inspector.

As of 2008, entry into the PRF will require a higher education diploma recognized by the Ministry of Education. This decision has already been published in the Diário Oficial da União.

The Federal Highway Police was created in 1928 during the administration of President Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa, under the name Roadway Police (Polícia das Estradas).

It is present in all units of the federation and is managed by the Federal Highway Police Department (DPRF), headquartered in Brasília. The states are divided into administrative units known as regions. A region can be a “superintendency”, in the case of larger states, or a “district” in smaller states. Some regions encompass more than one Brazilian state. Regions are divided into “delegations”, which coordinate the patrol posts.

Currently the PRF has over four hundred patrol posts in the most diverse Brazilian municipalities, providing a capillarity to the structure of the agency that few national institutions possess.

Despite the

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uniformed work, the DPRF is not a military institution and a rigid hierarchy among the police officers does not exist. The entire hierarchy is based on the functions of supervision, which can be occupied by any police officer, for example a special agent may be supervisor of an inspector.

The PRF, like other law enforcement agencies, also possesses specialized centers, such as the Special Operations Center (Núcleo de Operações Especiais or NOE), where its members receive regular training in more specialised forms of combat.


The Federal Highway Police was a pioneer among Brazilian law enforcement agencies in the use of .40 caliber S&W.
This important step in the permission of a caliber with excellent stopping power came about due to the large amount of PRF officers participating in marksmanship for sport, where the caliber was already used among the most

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experienced shooters.

The PRF presented sufficient argument to the Brazilian Army for that caliber to be allowed for PRF use. Formerly using .380 ACP and 38 for revolvers, the Brazilian Army did not offer any resistance to the improvement of the service conditions of that law enforcement class, as 38 caliber and .380 ACP presented a small stopping power compared to .40 caliber S&W.
As the amount of police personnel on federal highways is small, when PRF officers are involved in armed confrontations they will typically require a caliber that would really make a difference in the confrontation.

What could be considered a privilege, at the time, for federal highway police officers, the only police officers authorized to use .40 caliber S&W, eventually was extended slowly and gradually to other military and civilian police agencies all over the country.

The 38 caliber, lacking in stopping power, was retired by the Federal Highway Police and the .40 S&W arrived on the scene, with a stopping power of 92. This means that for every 100 people hit by this caliber, 92 will become unable to continue fighting with only one shot of the firearm.

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