In the Spanish capital of Madrid, members of a special until, the Policia Armada, recently began to mount patrols in the streets.
GV Armed police patrol leaving police station
CU Policeman patrolling streets (TWO SHOTS)
CU Policeman talking to kiosk owner (TWO SHOTS)
SV Police vehicle draws up. Police officer gets out and talks to patrolling policeman (TWO SHOTS)
SV Policeman unloading horses from van
CU Policeman looks on as police mount horses (THREE SHOTS)
GV Mounted police entering park
CU Couple sitting on park bench
SV Police patrol in park (TWO SHOTS)
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Background: In the Spanish capital of Madrid, members of a special until, the Policia Armada, recently began to mount patrols in the streets. These patrols are part of a campaign by the police to counter a dramatic increase in crime over the past two or three years
SYNOPSIS: In the past, the Policia Armada were used only to deal with public order and riots. This month, they began to patrol set areas in the capital with orders to get to know the districts.
By putting them into the streets, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior hopes to change their image. Under the Franco regime, they were seen as oppressors, serving the government.
Now the authorities hope they will begin to be regarded as protectors of the people. Reform of the security forces - including the Policia Armada-has been a subject of debate since General Franco died. Security has become a increasingly urgent issue since Spain adopted a freer parliamentary democracy.
Last month, the Spanish cabinet approved a draft bill outlining several reforms in the security forces. But, apparently because of strong objections from the army and police, no radical changes have yet been put forward. However, one main proposal is that the Policia Armada will switch from military control to become part of the national police force. Formed in 1941, the force was used as a powerful arm of repression during the years of Franco rule. Its strength now stands at about 30,000 men.
The government has also put these police on the street in its campaign to cut down a dramatic rise in crime. The Spanish government says this increase largely stems from the release of almost, 11,000 political and criminal prisoners under recent amnesties.