In some countries, people feel the Police has way too many rights and policemen can do pretty much what they please as the law is there to protect them should anything hit the fan. Looking at the number of convicted policemen versus the number of reported abuse cases, you have to feel there’s some truth to that.
On the other hand, policemen do need a kind of special protection if they’re to continue fighting crime effectively. Also, the image of the law and order institution has to be kept clean so that policemen can command respect.
The problem is some people take this “keeping the image clean” thing a bit wrong, covering up abuses and thus committing several more of them, generating a vicious circle that can backfire ten-fold when/if exposed.
It appears Spain has recently passed a law – ironically called Citizens Security Law – which forbids “the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might jeopardize their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations.”
You’ll notice it says nothing about “image”, instead concerning strictly the safety of policemen, their families and Police activity.
So what really happened?
Based on this law, a woman was fined 600 euros (about $660) for taking the image you see above and posting it online. The image shows a Police Nissan Qashqai in a parking space reserved for disabled people.
The Police response was that the two officers were on a mission responding to an act of vandalism, in which case they are allowed to park anywhere. Clearly, if you’re ever in need of Police assistance, you wouldn’t like them to arrive ten minutes late because they couldn’t find a parking space, so that absolutely makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is fining the woman. When she posted the image, she had no idea the two policemen were on a mission, so it’s not a case of ill intention. Whether the two were indeed answering a distress call can easily be confirmed, so we’ll assume it’s true.
The reason cited for the fine was “the honor of the two officers was attacked.” I don’t know about you, but I find “attacked” a word too strong, deliberately chosen to impress and to stretch a connection between this case ant the aforementioned law. In my opinion, a simple comment on behalf of the Spanish Police clearing out the situation coupled with the takedown of the image would have sufficed.
The solution chosen by the Police smells of bullying and is probably an attempt to make people think twice before pointing out possible Police abuses in the future. There’s a reason why that law is called the “gag law” in Spain.