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Rio 2016: Fears of an attack during Olympics prompt boost in security

Brazil brings in police, military to handle Olympic security
WATCH ABOVE: Brazil brings in police, military to handle Olympic security

Fears of a lone-wolf attack have led military police in Rio de Janeiro to boost their presence by a third, to almost 14,000 officers.

That will bring the total number of security officers patrolling Olympic venues to nearly 85,000, a number includes military and civic police, the army and the navy.

On the iconic Copacabana Beach, which will host Olympic Beach Volleyball, there are armed officers everywhere.

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Rio athletes take the plunge in dirty waters despite extreme risks
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The strong security presence is aimed at allaying any fears visitors and athletes might have about a potential terror attack but concerns remain about how prepared Brazil is to deal with one.

READ MORE: Rio 2016: What veteran athletes tell first-time Olympians

Late last week, the Brazilian government fired the firm that was supposed to supply security screening for the Games because the company had hired just a fraction of the thousands of screeners it was supposed to.

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Maria Emilia, a resident of Rio, told Global News she’s worried about Brazil becoming a target.

“We never have before, and I’ve never seen so much security, we aren’t used to it,” she said.

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Brazil is not a traditional terror target, but there has been some increased chatter online recently in Portuguese on websites associated with the so-called Islamic State.

Late last month, police arrested a dozen people suspected of plotting a terror attack during the Games. The plot wasn’t sophisticated but it kicked security into high gear.

Not everyone is a fan of the increased police presence, though.

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Rio de Janeiro still getting ready for Olympics with opening just days away
Rio de Janeiro still getting ready for Olympics with opening just days away

A number of locals we spoke to, who wanted to remain anonymous, told us they don’t trust the police.

That doesn’t surprise Dr. David Murakami Wood, research chair in surveillance studies at Queen’s University.

“In the course of various wars with drug lords, especially in the poorer neighbourhoods, police acquired a reputation for killing people who they regard as suspects,” Wood told Global News in an interview. “It’s not something that makes people feel safer, having larger than normal numbers of police on the ground in the city.”

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It could also be an issue in dealing with potential terror attacks – something Brazilian police forces aren’t used to.

“The police have acquired a certain set of tactics to deal with local violence from drug gangs,” Wood said. “This is really not the kinds of tactical knowledge you need to police a major event like the Olympics.”