World News: Escalation of Police Violence Ignites French Rage, Concern

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As escalating police violence, brutality and bullying raise serious questions regarding their mission, the possibility of reforming the National Police, which is sweeping the globe, presents a real danger of suppression and submission under the republican universalism.

There are institutions, in any case presented as such, which are never challenged in France, first among which is the National Police. It is not the only one in this case since the French Army or the National Education enjoy the same treatment.

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Often criticized the National Police appear for many to be untouchable, and hence part of the tension that surrounds it in public opinion. There are several reasons for this untouchable status. Its vocation to protect and serve the populations and its role as guarantor of the republican order allow the National Police to be among the institutions apart in the organization chart of the Republic.

However, the last weeks, if not the last few years, have been trying for the institution that depends on Place Beauvau. Arrests and practices deemed too muscular, verbal slippages, sometimes xenophobic, of several police officers in the exercise of their functions have reached the image of exemplarity desired by the state.

Upheaval and Republican Ideal

It is therefore now necessary to go beyond simple criticism to dare to put forward what there is still three months ago, before the upheaval of confinement and the coronavirus pandemic, seemed unthinkable: rebuilding the police.

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The idea may be considered preposterous but is it really? And before we cry out loud, it is already necessary to define precisely what is meant by refoundation? Words have their weight and their meaning especially when the latter condition the action of one of the oldest institutions in France.

It is clear that the Police of Georges Clemenceau, founder of the modern police in 1906 has nothing in common with that of 2021, currently headed by Christophe Castaner, Minister of the Interior. And besides do they still have common points?

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By examining the question, the National Police of 1906, imbued with folklore and nostalgia in the collective conscience, could take advantage of a form of republican gene which today seems to be lacking in that of 2021.

Not that civil servants contemporary police are devoid of Republican spirit or ideal far from it, but like French society, it appears that the republican universalism which founded many of our institutions and constituted one of the bases of our social model has faded to the point of becoming commonplace and secondary to end overused when it should be the constitutive core of it.

Concord and Legitimate Challenge

The advanced refoundation would therefore consist in a first step to reconnect with this republican ideal, made of harmony and common good. The recent controversies overwhelming the police officers accused of inspiring fear are for some considered excessive, but must they be swept away with the back of the hand.

From the moment when an institution supposed to protect and serve a population inspires fear, whether the latter is founded or not, exaggerated or not, then the question arises of the meaning, role and image of the custodians of public order who cannot accept excess. This public order, praised by the President of the Republic, cannot thus serve, in democracy all the more, as a passport to the setting in step of a legitimate dispute, whatever it is, recognized by the Constitution.

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Often used as a catch-all, the republican order, the prerogative of the National Police, is thus perhaps on the way to become the alibi for the multiplication of violence which interrogates. Because in the Republic the use of force, he was employed by the National Police, must first be based on the general interest and not the will of some to stifle criticism.

And in this case, we no longer pretend to live in a democracy.



Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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