Law enforcement agencies still on the front line

Confronted with the double challenge of the fight against terrorism and the fight against Covid-19, through the reconfinement, the police are once again on the front line.

A terrorist attack often generates “A reflex of solidarity and unity around the police”, indicated Jacques de Maillard, professor of political science and director of the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Criminal Institutions (Cesdip). But on the Covid front, police and gendarmes “Must once again apply unpopular measures, very restrictive of freedom, or verbalize an act as banal as leaving home”, highlighted Mathieu Zagrodzki, he also researcher at Cesdip and specialist in relations between the police and the population.

Find a ridge line

Everything will depend on the way in which the police will apply general rules from above on the ground. All the more so in the context of confinement with more flexible rules than in the spring, where you can go out to work, pick up your children from school, etc. : “The more exceptions a rule has, the more it leaves a margin of interpretation for the population and the police. It is generally a source of conflict. “

We’ll have to find a ridge line, provide an answer “Intelligent, adapted”, Jacques de Maillard point. But it is not the stronghold of the police, and “Its very centralized, very vertical organization, which has not gotten into the habit of empowering its field agents. She must learn in a short time … “

Or “The policeman is tired”, said Benoît Barret, general secretary of the majority union Alliance police. “He has been overexposed, overworked, overworked for months, years. “ Since 2015: terrorist acts, labor law, yellow vests. “Besides that, the police missions are not stopped: the fight against narcotics, violence against women, urban rodeos, etc. “ The trade unionist also pleads against a justice that he considers “Absent and which fuels a feeling of impunity in society. 80,000 sentences are not carried out each year ”.

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“Overwork is very real”

The “Anti-cop hate” also undermines the morale of the police, thinks the trade unionist. But it is far from being the majority, tempers Mathieu Zagrodzki. “The police have 65 to 70% favorable opinions. “

Are the police numerous enough to fulfill all these missions? “France is not under-staffed, Mathieu Zagrodzki advance. It is at the same level as Germany, a little above the United Kingdom. But with twenty-five million hours of overtime last year, the overwork is very real. “

Here, the government announced that 3,500 reservist gendarmes and 3,500 police officers and mobile gendarmes would be made available to the prefects from Monday in the fight against terrorism.

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