The action came three weeks before the nation will host the World Cup, bringing millions of tourists to Brazil and focusing global attention on the country's progress and problems.
Thirty percent of Rio de Janeiro police would remain on duty for the duration of the strike, as required by law, police union president Francisco Chao said. Thousands of police in 14 Brazilian states went on strike, although essential services were not disrupted and no major incidents were reported. Only civil police, involved with criminal incidents, are involved in the strike.
Police are demanding raises of up to 80 percent.
The strike comes as Brazil gears up for the soccer matches, and 20,000 additional personnel, including military police and soldiers, will be involved in protecting Rio de Janeiro. Officials said armed law enforcement officers will patrol streets, subway stops and major tourist areas, as well as the stadium.
Enthusiasm for the event, whose preparation has caused rioting over misplaced national priorities and protests about cost overruns and behind-schedule preparation of venues, is expected to grow, said Undersecretary of Big Events Roberto Alzir.
"There is no climate for a general (police) strike now in Rio de Janeiro," he said.