Josep Palouzié, Palma's new police chief, who has a wealth of experience with city forces in Catalonia.

11-07-2016Alejandro Sepulveda

Josep Palouzié took up his post as police commissioner in Palma just over a fortnight ago. His appointment has come at a difficult time for the local police force, reeling from corruption allegations and the loss of two commanders in the space of some six months. Palouzié fitted the bill where the town hall was concerned because, among other things, he is an outsider with no previous connection to the Palma force.

Eight years with the Gerona police prior to taking up the Palma position, Palouzié says that he wasn't approached by Angelica Pastor, the councillor for public safety. It was an alert on Google that drew his attention, so he sent off a letter. Moreover, his wife helped to persuade him that it was time for a change. "She's the daughter of a fisherman. She has always associated herself with the sea. She didn't like living inland."

Extensive experience gained from working with other city forces in Catalonia was a further reason why the town hall felt he was the man for the job, and what a job it is, given the problems the force has encountered. He is aware that any change in command brings about different expectations and that members of the force will be unsure as to what he has to say and what he does. He stresses, however, that he has not found the force to be as it has been painted. "Criminality and corruption are concentrated on a few. They're one thing. The other is the professionalism of the majority of the force."

He says that he has yet to find anything hidden in closets. "I haven't had time to open them all." One thing he is critical of is an historical failure to apply a proper hierarchical structure to the force. This has led to "inventions", and these inventions have proved to be costly. His preference is for organisation based on models of local security, meaning a proximity to the people.

Asked if he comes with his hands free or conditioned by politicians, he says that he is not the sheriff of Palma. "I am a specialist with a public duty that I owe to political power. Political guidelines I accept, but carrying them out is up to me. Of Pastor he says that she is passionate about her work and that they both understand the need to work together. "She is the councillor, the people voted for her. I will follow her guidelines."

There is to be a change of mayor next year. José Hila will hand over to Antoni Noguera of Més. Palouzié says that he doesn't know him. Asked what he made of Noguera not standing for the national hymn on the day of the local police, he maintains that it was up to him. "I believe he later apologised. But it's his problem." He was surprised, however, that the state police did not salute the Majorcan hymn, La Balanguera. He doesn't think that this is how it should be, noting that in Catalonia everyone salutes the Segadors hymn.

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