From gray to blue: 200 “vigilant” years

The establishment of the “Day of the Victims of Terrorism of the National Police” is one of the latest provisions that have been issued to honor the victims of terrorism of this force and their families. The chosen date is June 16, the day on which the terrorist organization ETA murdered Chief Inspector María José García Sánchez, in Zarauz (Guipúzcoa) in 1981. In the National Police, another 187 members of this body have been murdered, one a figure to which we must add the dozens of injured agents and destroyed families who suffered terrorism firsthand. 200 years of history remain behind, at the service of Spain and the Spanish people. Aside from historical controversies about who were the first to be in charge of security and public order, the truth is that almost all Spaniards, except those who do not feel like such, perceive the National Police as something of their own, women and men who are willing 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to give everything so that they can live safely and exercise their constitutional rights and duties.

There are already two centuries of history behind security. On January 13, the National Police celebrated 200 years in which it has evolved and adapted to the challenges of each era, forging in that long journey some very solid principles and values, born from the effort, sacrifice and even heroism of its members. members.

The first symbol of the police institution was the rooster, “always awake and vigilant…”. The strength of his image was also assumed by some police officers in Latin America. Furthermore, this Corps was not always called the National Police.

The Royal Provision promulgated in 1824, with which the Police began, assigned to this Body the functions of preventing the commission of crimes, investigating them and prosecuting them; which meant by then the introduction of the necessary guarantees for the control of crime and the defense of the community – then the same institutions that persecuted the criminal were the ones who imposed the penalty.

The Royal Decree also creates a national police institution, which had not existed until then. The first traveler passports, the first identity cards, the sides of the police authority show a way of acting that continues to this day.

On foot or on horseback, the royal guards guaranteed tranquility in the streets and roads, patrolling in pairs and providing protection to couriers and stagecoaches. It was the first time that preventive work was felt in Spain. There was also the “high police” that was equivalent to espionage and acted in Portugal, Gibraltar, London and the south of France or the “secret” focused on the collection of information.

In 1930, bloodless intervention models were developed for mass control. They are the vanguard or assault sections best known by this name – those that used leather-covered rubber sheaths for the first time, known as defenses, replacing other harmful weapons.

After the civil war, the general Police and Armed Police and Traffic Corps will be the continuers of the Spanish police tradition. With implementation throughout the territory, they dealt with tasks of maintaining order, preventing crimes and investigating those committed, prosecuting their perpetrators. It will be at this stage that some of the specialties that exist today will be born.

During the first socialist Government, chaired by Felipe Gonzáles, it was the then general director of the Police, Rafael del Río, who gave a definitive impetus to the modernization of the Corps, with its unification through the creation of the Ávila School, configured as one of the most modern in Europe, in addition to the correction of some minimal but high-profile cases of corruption; among other initiatives. These were difficult times, due to the great criminal activity of ETA, and human and material resources were dedicated to combating them.

Spain was the first EU country to have a fingerprint identification center. Then the United States and Japan competed to “sell” their model, although, finally, the Japanese one was acquired. This served to advance the resolution of the cases through the comparison of the “fingerprint” or “latent print.” Its comparison with the fingerprints registered in police databases can lead to relating several crimes to each other or to determining the presence of a suspect at the scene.

In the democratic stage, according to historian Martín Turrado, it has undergone one of the greatest transformations in its history due to a series of events, especially the unification of the two bodies –civilian and militarized–; that of the entry of women into police tasks; the appearance of unions… All this was a consequence of the Moncloa Pacts in which all political parties with parliamentary representation participated. «A great success at this stage has been to emphasize the training, updating and improvement of the police officers. It is a great success because we now have a police force that is properly trained and prepared to face all the challenges of contemporary crime. Never before has there been a Police as prepared as now in Spain,” he points out.

In 1898, on Pez Street in Madrid, a cart was driving, loaded with numerous sacks of flour, when an eight-year-old girl got under it. It was a security police patrolling her who was able to get her to safety, however, they ran over his rear wheels and literally split him in two, says Turrón. He gave his life in an act of service as a sign of his civic commitment, something that throughout the history of the Police his officers have continued to do.

From dark to gray, through brown to blue. The uniformity also changed to emulate the police forces of the world.

From the baton to the police badge

►The external symbology of police authority has been transformed from the origin of the baton at the beginning – a sign of the authority granted to the commissioner by law – similar to the mayor’s staff of command – to the badge-insignia, the the first of which appears late in 1920.