Spanish police inspectors to be trained by Catholic university

Academy cuts 28-year link with Salamanca University after accepting cheaper bid

Acting Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz talks to Ávila bishop Jesús García Burillo.
Acting Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz talks to Ávila bishop Jesús García Burillo.RAÚL SANCHIDRIÁN / EFE

Aspiring police inspectors with the Spanish National Police will be trained by a private Catholic university, ending a 28-year association with the secular Salamanca University.

Under the Spanish police system, an inspector is an executive rank below that of Chief Inspector. Sources at the Ávila police academy, where the trainees will now be lectured by professors from the Catholic University of Ávila (UCAV), said that the move was financially motivated.

Abortion, euthanasia and the Gag Law will never be the same when explained by a professor at a Catholic university

Professor of criminal law

“It was the cheapest offer,” said a source. The UCAV has reportedly lowered the cost of the service from the €200,000 charged by Salamanca University to €100,000, meaning that the state will save €18 on each hour-long class.

The Interior Ministry said it had “no involvement” in this recent agreement. Nobody seems to want to take responsibility for a decision that has drawn criticism in the world of academia, because there is more than just money at stake.

“Abortion, euthanasia and the so-called Gag Law will never be the same when explained by a professor from a public university as by one from a private, Catholic university whose ultimate boss is the bishop,” said one professor of criminal law from Salamanca University who has taught at the police academy.

Although acting Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz is known to have a good personal relationship with the bishop of Ávila, Jesús García Burillo – who is also the Grand Chancellor of UCAV – the ministry denies any involvement in the deal, and says the decision was delegated to the National Police General Directorate.

The latter says that a task force was appointed to sift through the offers made by the various bidding universities. “They all have the same technical conditions, but given a maximum cost per class of €100 an hour, Salamanca offered €98, Seville University offered €95 and UCAV said it would teach for €80 an hour.”

Nobody at UCAV could be reached for comment, while the bishop himself replied: “The most opportune thing for you to do is to address the police academy.”

The police academy had maintained an agreement with Salamanca University for 28 years, but new legislation forced the state to put the contract up for tender four years ago. Until now, Salamanca had won every bid. But this year, Ávila won out.

Economic criteria have trumped academic prestige and a decades-long collaboration

Daniel Hernández Ruipérez, President Salamanca University

The three-member task force charged with choosing the contract – representing the National Police, the Tax Agency and the State’s legal counsel – does not take into account whether a bidding university is secular or religious, or whether it is private or public.

“Economic criteria have trumped academic prestige and a decades-long collaboration,” said Daniel Hernández Ruipérez, president of Salamanca University, who is taking the case to court. The dean of the Law School , Ricardo Rivero, is planning to appeal the decision to switch universities based on the winner’s “lack of technical solvency.” The National Police General Directorate promises to “analyze it rigorously.”

Founded in 1134, Salamanca University is Spain’s oldest and Europe’s third oldest continuously operating university.

English version by Susana Urra.

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