Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

Paris police unarmed! New force goes gunless under the orders of city council

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The non-lethal officials are the work of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, the socialist candidate for next April’s French presidential election. Instead, the first contingent of 154 new officers – which Ms Hidalgo inspected yesterday – will be armed with bicycles, truncheons and pepper spray.

The Parisien mayor hopes the unarmed police would strengthen bonds with residents, taking after Britain’s old fashioned bobbies on the beat, the Times reports.

The national gendarme took over policing of the capital under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, after the 1789 resolution and the upheavals in the city that followed.

It was replaced by the current Prefecture of Police created by Napoleon in 1800, meaning that for 221 years Paris did not have its own police force.

Instead, the city was policed under the direct auspices of the French Ministry of the Interior.

It was originally under the control of the Lieutenancy General of Police, created by King Louis XIV in 1667.

Emmanuel Gregoire, deputy mayor, described the launch of the new municipal force as “a historic moment”.

“This is a revolution in terms of security in Paris,” he added. “We hope Parisians will see the concrete effects very quickly.”

The municipal police will draw personnel from 3,000 existing environment inspectors, traffic wardens and other public security personnel.

They will be there to reassure the public and hand out €135 (£114) fines for driving offences or antisocial behaviour.

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By 2026, it is expected there will be 5,000 officers in the municipal force.

The new force will be more akin to Britain’s community support officers, as they will not have the power to arrest unless they catch a criminal in the act – in which event they would have to immediately call the gendarme.

Neither will they be able to carry out identity checks. They will wear ballistic vests and video cameras.

“We don’t want any confusion between what the national police does and what the municipal police will do,” said Nicolas Nordman, the deputy mayor in charge of security, said.

Ms Hidalgo has previously been reticent towards a local police force for Paris, but ended her aversion following the 2015 terror attacks in the city – as well as the violent protests in recent years.

The socialist mayor has faced criticism from both left and right over the new force’s lack of a firearm.

Philippe Goujon, mayor of the 15th arrondissement, said: “With the rise in violence, every uniform on the street is a target.

“For their own protection, they should be armed.”

Mr Gregoire said: “No municipal police mission can authorise an officer to use a firearm.

“A fight between youths is not resolved like that. To allow that would create confusion in the missions of our agents.”

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