Cops On Strike

photo: bistro pho, 3 rue volta

If 'Pho' means Vietnam, then that's the style of this restaurant in Paris' oldest house.

Another News Week That Was

Paris:- Monday, 26. November 2001:- While I have not been doing this column France has been having its own brand of news. While a good part of each evening's main 20:00 national news on TV has been about the thing that is going on in Afghanistan, the rest of the day's news has also been presented.

France-2 TV has a new news-reader during the week. To get a job like this in France I think it is necessary to be a journalist, and the best of them take the 'news' to a different level.

But this event in far off Afghanistan seems to produce a lot of news that seems about as substantial as village gossip, gathered over back fences, from distant shouted reports originating in a neighboring village many kilometres away.

The result, on France-2 at least, is a lot of Afghan gunfighters posing for the TV-news cameras, with very little real information - and the rest of the news scrunched into whatever time is left over.

This means there are incomprehensible compressed video clips that are shown for a time so short that no news reader's words can possibly explain what the visual clip was about. These things should have been spiked.

Just when it begins to seem like there needs to be something better at newstime, we get a report about -

Our New-Look New Cops

These are not only new-look, but they are a brand new troop - the newest thing since the PUPS, which are, to make a four-word name short, local cops. The new ones are called 'APS,' which is short for Agents de Surveillance de Paris. These too are local cops.

The new APS flics are easily distinguishable because they have white- topped lids with a yellow and black checkered band. Another thing they have is whistles, because they are supposed to stand in intersections and tweet at silly drivers who don't get out of them.

These new cops' other duties include telling citizens to be civic, and pick up the ejections of their animals, and to stop spraying 'tags' on vacant wall surfaces.

To back up orders like these, the new APS agents also have the powers to hand out tickets to offenders.

In Paris, you see, a cop is not necessarily a flic. The city has hired the new public securityphoto: fall, winter, pl denfert personal, and lent them to the Préfet de Police. The opposition in the Hôtel de Ville wanted to see the creation of a municipal police force instead.

This is how fall looked in Paris a couple of days ago - still green, but wet.

Eventually there will be 800 of these new city-hired APS cops, and in theory, they will free up the National Police for duties more important than telling visitors how to get to Châtelet.

Actually, with a little shuffling around, the Préfet de Police expects to be able to redeploy 1000 flics in Paris, plus he is expecting a shipment 515 brand-new full-grade policemen next January.

It is also foreseen that the official national police schools will be accepting some of the more ambitious of Paris' APS recruits for training as regular cops.

Already they are foreseen as 'assistant agents of the Police Judiciare' or APJAs. If I ask any French neighbors about this, it is unlikely that they will be able to explain it any better than I understand it.

Basically, there are at least two kinds of cops in France. Some towns and cities have municipal police forces, while throughout the land there are national police forces. I use the plural, because there may be several different kinds.

Cops Not, Cops On Strike

The police known as gendarmes are national police and they are under orders of the Ministry of Defense, as if they are soldiers. As such they are not allowed to belong to unions or go on strike.

This is why their wives held a public demonstration in their place in Grenoble on Saturday. The wives are striking against overlong hours ofphoto: brochante, espece beaute service, low pay and insufficient equipment. Some troops of gendarmes do not have enough bullet-proof vests to go around.

Another view of the brocante near the Mairie of the 3rd.

For the police this is not a joke. The bad guys in France have bigger guns and faster cars, and they do a lot of shooting at cops.

Other cops, under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, do belong to unions and they have been staging huge demonstrations around France recently.

They are so angry that they have easily outnumbered other groups that they usually control during demonstrations. Twenty to 30,000 police officers were on the streets around France last week.

Next in line to go out on the streets are the municipal police, which are also represented by unions. In addition to better pay and shorter working hours, they want to be armed. At the moment all they have are tear-gas bombs and clubs.

Armored Cars, En Garde

I was wrong about the bad guys taking a break from attacking armored cars. Doing so has suddenly become a bandit sport again as robbers try to get their hands on deliveries of new euros.

These attacks are extremely violent, with nothing lesser than military-type machine guns beng used. During the last two incidents, the armed car crews battled back, killing one attacker and wounding another.

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