Just two days before the first round of the French legislative elections, President Emmanuel Macron said he would reform and reinforce the police on Thursday (9 June) following increased scrutiny over a series of botched operations. EURACTIV France reports.
Violence at the Stade de France after the Champions League final, the killing of a man during a police check in April, and a young woman shot by a stray bullet during an arrest on Saturday (4 June) are just some of the recent incidents calling French policing into question.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin attempted to defend the government’s law and order doctrine. Still, while the left accused police of using force disproportionately, the right questioned the laxity of the executive.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon who questioned the evolution of how police use force under Macron, even said that “the police kill”.
With the topic becoming inflammatory, Macron decided, like members of his presidential majority and the right, to show the police his support.
On a trip to the department of Tarn, the president paid tribute to the “security forces who protect us” and praised their “professionalism, exemplarity and ethics”.
“There are things I cannot accept. It is that we insult those who risk their lives to protect ours,” said Macron in an implicit jab at Mélenchon. “For a nation to be united […], we must absolutely defend our gendarmes and our police officers,” he continued.
To support the police and the gendarmerie, Macron announced that he wanted to “reinforce the means of action in the next five years” with the deployment of 200 gendarmerie brigades across the country and doubling the number of reservists.
The executive is also considering organisational reforms, recruitment and new equipment to ensure “less paperwork” and allow the police to be more present in the field to “prevent and act” against crime.
The French president also said that the aim is to “double the presence of our law enforcement agencies on the public highway by the end of the decade”, the French president also said.
Following Macron’s comments, Mélenchon insisted that “nobody insulted the police”, demanding that he wanted to “denounce a doctrine of policing that has led to violence.”
Macron nevertheless seems to want to ease tensions and to have acknowledged the concerns parts of the population had raised following the recent incidents as recalled the “requirement of respect for the rules of ethics and commitment.”
However, just two days before the first round of the legislative elections, Mélenchon says he believes Macron’s comments and attacks targeted towards him reflect a certain “restlessness” due to him and the president currently being neck-and-neck in the polls.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]