About the author : Thomas Lojek

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The southern border of Spain: A perfect example of the secret asymmetrical war against our law enforcement officers in Europe!

Organized crime in Spain is not „para tonterias“ anymore: Narcos and organized crime bring every day more lethal weapons into the fight against Spanish police officers!

Over the past few years, the southern border of Spain, Andalucia, has become a perfect example of the secret asymmetrical war against our law enforcement officers in Europe. 

Plagued by a constantly high unemployment rate and an overall low-income situation the Spanish border towns close to the Strait of Gibraltar are ridden apart by rising violence, organized crime, and turf wars of narco gangs.

For many Andalusians, the only way to generate income is to join organized crime, to sell drugs, or to take high-risk routes on speed boats to the nearby coast of Africa and bring secretly drugs or tobacco into Spain.

With stakes so high, violence is on the rise. 

And while violence is rising, Spanish Police Forces have to face a dilemma: Narcos and organized crime bring every day more lethal weapons into the fight.

At the same time, Spanish lawmakers tie the hands of what Spanish Police Forces are allowed to do.

Not for reason but for ideology.

Spanish police officers have to follow a tight and often ridiculous protocol before they are allowed to act.

As consequences Spanish police officers are losing the initiative on their streets. 

And the basic rule for being effective in any form of law enforcement mission is:

“Make sure that you have the initiative! You lose the initiative, you lose the mission.“

We know that since Sun Tzu. 

But European lawmakers make their decision in warm and comfortable office chairs and based on what makes them more popular.

Politicians don’t have to make their decisions on the street while facing violence and the possibility of their own death like police officers have to every day.

And police officers in the borderlands of Southern Spain are facing every day a higher risk of being killed in the growing circle of violence that haunts Andalucia for years now. 

Every form of violence puts Spanish police officers into the difficult spot that they are bound by tight rules while narcos and criminals are following only the rule of free, unruled predators.

Organized crime at the southern border of Spain is not „para tonterias“ anymore.

Criminals in this area calculate very well that every form of violence puts police forces into the difficult spot that they are bound by tight rules while narcos and criminals are following only the rule of free, unruled predators: ready to kill, willing to kill, while spreading violence and fear in their neighborhoods to control them. 

Today, these groups bring deadly ballistics into the fight, sophisticated ambush tactics, effective communication routes via smartphones and Apps, and tactics… but without moral rules.

Spanish Police Forces are well trained and many departments have exceptional operational experience – but it became a new norm that they have to stand down, retreat, or aren’t allowed to use force to gain control, because of laws and the fear of politicians to have an unfavorable dip in their polls after the incident.

Spanish Police Forces are often left alone in this asymmetric war against them.

The media don‘t cover it. Politicians ignore it. Budgets are cut. 

While the solution for this dilemma is fairly easy. Just give Spanish Police Forces more room to gain and maintain the initiative.

Body cams, drones, internal revisions, peer-to-peer reviews of operations, and proper training – these are effective tools to keep „unjustified police violence“ controlled.

Yes, it will cost more money… But isn’t that money well spend, considering the cost of lives that it otherwise paid in blood and crime on the streets of this beautiful country?

An effective police force needs:

1) regular training

2) good training

3) effective equipment

4) experienced and good leaders in their departments who understand all aspects of law enforcement, especially what happens on the streets

5) support by reasonable policymakers who really listen to their law enforcement agencies, and…

6) a fair media coverage that shows both sides of the story.

Nothing of this is really „radical“ or „unreasonable“ – it is the lifeblood of any democracy: fairness and support for those who keep up at night to defend what makes our life safer and worth living.  

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Photos provided by members of Spanish Police Forces