Municipal police in France - Police Municipale

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history of emergence and formation, main forces, tasks and functions, legal position and powers of the municipal police, its role in the law enforcement system of France

Municipal police in France - Police Municipale

Municipal police in France - Police Municipale
As usual, there is little history at the beginning: the emergence of its own police services in the local self-government bodies of the cities of France dates back to the time of the Great French Revolution. Then, in 1789-1790, a new system of urban administration was created in post-revolutionary Paris, in which the first departments of the municipal police appeared. At the same time, the limits of competence of municipal authorities in terms of police tasks were established by law. In particular, local self-government was responsible for ensuring security on the streets and in other public places, preventing and suppressing such offences as fights, illegal meetings, noise at night and other obvious violations of public order. It was also the responsibility of the municipal police to monitor the sanitary condition on the streets of cities, up to and including the supervision of the quality of food sold in public places. It must be said that most of these tasks remained under the responsibility of the local police of the French communes to the present.
In the future, together with the French State system, the legal situation of the municipal police has changed several times as part of the system of local self-government bodies. Its powers were expanded to practically the main police service, on the contrary, it became completely dependent on the MIA of France. To date, France's police system is based on the principles of centralization, where the national police is the main role, and the municipal police is only auxiliary.
The share of municipal police in France's law enforcement system is small. To date, the total number of Police Municale employees in the country is about 23,000 (by comparison, the number of French National Police is approximately 220,000).
Employment in municipal police bodies, unlike the national police, where it is sufficient to meet formal requirements, is carried out on a competitive basis. The candidate of each applicant is approved personally by the mayor of the city in agreement with the city prosecutor. Only then is the candidate sworn in and sent to the police training centre, where a training course of 6 months takes place.

Main tasks and functions
- Ensuring public order and public safety on the streets and in other public places, including public events;
Prevention and suppression of crimes and administrative offences;
- Monitoring compliance with the requirements established by local legislation;
Record and document administrative offences relating to public order, road safety, observance of sanitary standards, rules for the maintenance of pets, restrictions on travel to certain territories, as well as other prohibitions and rules established by local self-government bodies;
- To assist the French national police and other law enforcement agencies in carrying out their tasks.

Main Forces
They are mostly patrol units that serve on the streets and in other public places in walking order, on specialist police cars and motorcycles. In some cities (mainly resort) it is possible to find patrols on bicycles, sigvees and electric stations. Also, depending on the municipality, there may be horse police units and canists within the Police Municipale.

Right-wing position and authority
According to its status, the municipal police is the reserve of the national (state) police, which is subordinate to the MIA of France. In carrying out police operations, arrests and operational activities for the suppression and investigation of criminal offences by the National Police, the Municipal performs a subsidiary function.
In terms of administrative offences, the powers of the municipal police are slightly wider: its officers can record and document most of the administrative offences relating to public order, road safety, sanitary standards, order and rules for the maintenance of pets, restrictions on travel to certain territories and other local prohibitions.
However, municipal police officers are not entitled to detain the offender, even administrative one. If a violation requiring the perpetrator to be brought to the police station is detected, the municipal police officer is obliged to notify the representative of the national police and hand over the offender to him.
In general, the legal position of the municipal police of France today is probably the most controversial of all the countries of western and eastern Europe, which we have considered in previous articles.
The main reason for this is the very principle of the organization of local self-government in France. The fact is that the cities are run by elected mayors and their appointed officials of the local administration, which includes the municipal police. However, there is another important link in the local authority system - prefects. These are government officials appointed by the Government of France who exercise State control over the work of local authorities.
Powers of prefects are rather extensive: they can interfere practically with any field of activity of local governments including police. The characteristic example of such intervention was discussed recently on the website of labor union of municipal police of France where in one of the cities the prefect the order just took and disarmed all municipal police officers.
In general, a weapon question - one of sore subjects in activity of the French municipal police. Formally the legislation grants to municipal authorities the right to arm local police if they consider necessary it, or they can be limited to special means. However even in case the staff of municipal police is armed with firearms, they at any time can lose it. The city authorities (for example, after the next elections and change of the mayor), or as the above described case, the prefect can make it can make such decision. Certainly what such precarious position by the police officer of special optimism does not inspire. As for opportunities regarding use of weapons, today powers of municipal police are almost similar national, however until recently everything was much more sad.
Till 2016 when across France the wave of acts of terrorism in which hundreds of people died and suffered swept, the municipal police of the majority of the French communes was or is not armed at all, or armed with office revolvers. Their employees could apply only as self-defense, that is only when the most police was threatened by direct and obvious danger. And such legal status played the fatal role. The tragedy happened in July, 2016 in the French Nice, then the terrorist by truck just went round the post of municipal police exposed on entrance, and began to press people on the busy embankment. Unarmed municipal police officers could make nothing, and the closest post of national police was only in 400 meters. As result - dozens of the dead and wounded before the terrorist managed to be destroyed.
After the tragedy mutual recriminations of the management of municipal police of Nice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of France in criminal omission and also trials between two departments began. It should be noted that to their honor the French authorities drew the correct conclusions from current situation, and made corresponding changes to the legislation, at last having allowed municipal police to use weapon not only for self-defense, but also for protection of citizens and also allowed to arm municipals instead of outdated revolvers with modern semi-automatic guns.
However despite it, nearly a half of employees of municipal police in the cities of France remain unarmed. It is connected with the fact that the decision on arms of municipal police is made by local authorities, but as it was already told, without coordination with the prefect such decision cannot be made. And prefects, judging by a situation, go on it extremely reluctantly, continuing to keep "the armed monopoly" behind national police and gendarmerie.
Even in Paris where the question of creation of municipal police was brought up only in 2019 the mayor does not plan it to arm, having decided that for ensuring public order in Paris only rubber sticks and aerosol packages with tear gas will be a city police officer enough.

From the author: certainly, the mayor of Paris is more visible, what is happening in the city and what forces in her opinion are necessary to maintain order. However, given the level of modern threats in Europe and, especially in France, such a liberal approach to the issue of weapons for the newly created municipal police of the French capital could have sad consequences. The attack in Nice in July 2016 clearly demonstrated this.

article for the first time was published on May 03, 2018 on Yandex channel. Zen
in connection with closing of the channel it is postponed for the website on March 27, 2019
the last change is made on August 29, 2019

It is a little photo about work of municipal police officers in France
(all photos are clickable, press the image for increase)

France - municipal police patrol on bicycles France - Officer on patrol motorcycle controls traffic France - Municipal police foot patrol protects public order France - municipal police officers in cordon

France - Municipal Police Special Operation France - municipal police ensure public order at mass event France - municipal police evacuates the car for violation of the rules of the parking France - Municipal police patrol dangerous areas

the text is translated by means of technical means of the translation
original language of the text – Russian
some words and phrases can be translated not correctly and not correspond to original sense

Photos taken from official Facebook pages, municipal police Compiègne, Noisy-le-Grand and La Motte

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