Relations between town halls and their police forces don’t always run smoothly. Disputes typically arise because of understaffing and overwork, and this is behind the tensions in Santa Margalida, which last week led to a protest by police officers outside the town hall. Mayor Joan Monjo was photographed with a smile as he passed by the protesters.
The acting chief of police announced that he was quitting.
He and other officers claimed that the town hall was intent on “dismantling” the force. The recruitment of more police and salaries were central to their protest. For Santa Margalida to be correctly policed, there should be forty officers. At present there are 22, two of whom are on sick leave, a further two of whom are dedicated to “secondary activity” (admin) and another four who are planning to leave and move to municipalities where town halls pay more. On top of all these, there are two officers who are close to retirement.
The mayor said that a budget reduction would bring the force down from 38 to 30 but that the loss of the eight posts would be compensated by creating non-police jobs in support of the officers, a proposal that the force considered to be of “dubious legal effectiveness”.
The police let it be known that in 2012 there used to be 41 officers. With the way things are going, Santa Margalida could be left with fifteen by the middle of this year, a number that is way too low for a municipality that includes Can Picafort and its tourism and Son Serra de Marina, where residents have regularly complained about a lack of police presence.
In summer, there is a floating population of some 40,000 in Santa Margalida.
A meeting on Wednesday would seem to have lessened the tension. While the town hall continues to budget for a maximum of 30 officers rather than 38, salary improvements will be made. Monjo said that there were “no insurmountable differences”, but the union negotiator continued to state that there was not agreement with the reduction of the force.