The Civil Guard is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in Spain. It is similar to the French Gendarmerie and Italian Carabinieri. In addition to its primary duties of law enforcement, it also controls traffic, airports, coastlines, and communication networks.
It was established by the Duke of Ahumada in 1844. It was the first national public security force in Spain. At that time, it was organised along military lines and consisted of seven provincial companies. Its compliment was small, with approximately sixty-five thousand agents in 1986.
Today, the Spanish Civil Guard is a police institution with military structure and a quick reaction force. Agents have training in criminology, fiscal matters, and intelligence. Most recruits are the sons or daughters of guardsmen. They must pass a public competition and have a university degree before becoming a Lieutenant of the Civil Guard.
While the Civil Guard was established as a specialized police force, the institution has maintained its own traditions. Some of these include wearing a black hat and sword when conducting its tasks. This headgear has become the traditional service symbol and is referred to as the “tricorn.”
During the Civil War, the Civil Guard was divided into six zones. Each zone had a brigadier general in charge. There were roughly 800 lines in each zone, which corresponded to the platoons in the Civil Guard. The zones were arranged in six army regions. One of the most important units was the Rural Antiterrorist Group, which focused on countering terrorists in the Basque Country.
Another unit was the Mountain Units, which patrolled the Pyrenees frontier to prevent smugglers from entering the country. Other police units were responsible for border duty and prison duty. Those that performed prison duty were known as deputies.
Many of the Civil Guard members were harsh towards suspected Basque dissidents. A large number of cases of torture have been associated with the institution. Several Civil Guard members participated in the 1981 coup attempt.
The Civil Guard was reorganized by the Ministry of Public Security in 1996. The new agency is responsible for law enforcement, including counter-narcotics. Fuerza Publica’s duties include assignments, pay, and accommodations.
Civil Guard agents are trained in intelligence and law, which are critical skills in the fight against terrorism. In order to protect the people, the institution must detect criminal activity and enforce laws. Members of the Civil Guard are also expected to protect people and property, which may involve denying access to dangerous people.
In 2004, the Spanish Civil Guard had a total compliment of 73,000 agents. More than 2,500 were women. Although the organization is primarily a police force, it has a special intervention unit, which is charged with investigating and preventing crimes.
The organization’s reputation is based on its brutal interpretation of public order. The Civil Guard has been associated with the regime of Franco. However, the institution has also received new regulations under democracy. As a result, the institution has become respected.