MADRID (AP) — Thousands of Spanish police officers have packed a central square in Madrid to demand higher salaries and better working conditions.

The National Police and Civil Guard members were asking Saturday for the same pay received by the regional police forces that are exclusive to the regions of Catalonia and the Basque country. Many waved Spanish flags in the crowd that filled Madrid's Puerta del Sol square.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido responded by pledging to seek a leveling of salaries for the police forces by 2018.

Zoido says "what our National Police and Civil Guard officers are asking for is a just cause because they deserve it."