Every day more than 2,500 Local Police (Policía Local) officers patrol the streets of the municipalities in Malaga province and along the Costa del Sol. These officers are part of municipal-controlled forces and have witnessed the rise in violent crime in their areas.
So far this year, there have been eight supposed revenge killings linked to drug gangs and over 50 serious violent incidents, such as kidnap or attempted murder, along the coast.
Representatives of the Local Police officers have said they feel under appreciated in their crime-fighting role compared to colleagues in the better equipped and trained National Police and Guardia Civil. Their unions in Malaga have now spoken out about their fears over the spiral of violence, adding to the recent voices of Guardia Civil and National Police representatives.
Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, responsible for one of the largest municipal Local Police forces in the area, has called on national government to bring local mayors together to discuss better coordination between the different security forces. "This isn't something we can just deal with on Marbella council's security committee," she said.
Ignacio Mérida, Mijas head of the UPLB union, says there is poor communication between the different police services covering the area. "We don't want to do the investigating [but] just want to know when something happens in a neighbouring municipality, as we're on the streets and exposed to the same dangers as [National Police and Guardia Civil] forces. For example, nobody told us about the shooting in Cabopino (Marbella) when they killed a Frenchman on 3 December. We only got a call that there was a car on fire near to Mijas quarry, where the hitmen abandoned the vehicle after fleeing the scene. We were the first on the scene and treated it as a fire when really it was a crime operation," he explained.
Call for bigger guns
Óscar Camacho, a Local Police officer in Marbella and head of the CSL union, pointed out that criminals don't distinguish between the different uniforms and that Local Police are just as exposed as the other police forces. "There should be a communication channel between everyone so we're not left out."
Mérida also called for access to the same databases as the Guardia Civil and National Police, as often his officers lack the same basic information on who has been arrested.
Manuel Troyano, local leader of Sip-An called for Local Police to have longer-barrel guns, as other police forces and the criminals do. "In a stand off with a hand gun against one of those, the only thing you can do is hide as otherwise they'll fry you," he explained.