No Police Chases Allowed
An article in Le Salon Beige, drawn from NordEclair, a regional paper, describes the growing malaise within the police department as the French government places greater limitations on those actions which are permissible in the fight against crime. We know already that the police are severely restricted in the use of firearms. Now, they are not allowed to use the term "police chase":
Orders from above clearly indicate that "police chases" ("courses-poursuites" or "chasses") are officially forbidden, except in certain circumstances.
Note: These exceptional circumstances are not clarified.
"The police-chase" has become a dirty word. Now we have to speak of "accepting responsibility" ("prise en charge"); it sounds more peaceful. In substance, that comes down to a much greater risk weighing on the shoulders of each policeman, and in addition, the whole police force, because, in the event of an incident they know that they will not necessarily be backed."
Note: The above translation is a bit awkward. The French expression "prise en charge" looks like "taking charge", but it cannot always be translated this way. "Prise en charge" is in fact "footing the bill", and it is often used by insurance companies who agree to make some kind of payment, often a medical reimbursement. So the police have to agree to foot the bill, to accept responsibility for the outcome of the incident, when a police chase is involved.
Law enforcement lives with this reality: if they chase a criminal in a car, they not only run the risk of an accident, but also of setting off an explosion of violence and perhaps administrative sanctions. One officer laments:
"Sometimes I see kids without helmets, on motor bikes, mocking me and thumbing their noses at me. They know very well we cannot budge."
Events such as these arouse feelings of discouragement in many law enforcement workers, who are asked by higher-up not to expose themselves, to back off rather than add to the tension. The police union Alliance declares:
"Some give up completely; others cannot resign themselves to that, but their lives are not very happy. We cannot do our job as it should be done. The average taxpayer pays for this, while others are left free to do as they please in order not to make waves. The police should be feared and respected; people must know there's a price to pay for antagonizing police officers."
Urban violence in the northern French city of Roubaix during the weekend of August 21 was the immediate cause of the situation related above. A 27-year-old motorcyclist was injured in a police-chase. The cyclist was riding a bike without a license plate, and gave the riot police chase throughout Roubaix, causing cars to move to the side and pedestrians to jump out of his way. At one point he fell off his motorcycle, as did the policeman chasing him (also on a bike). Later the police chief denied that the cyclist had been pushed. An inquiry showed that the two cycles fell separately. The cyclist was taken to the hospital and rumors spread throughout the neighborhood of Epeule that he was in a coma and had to be amputated. The police said he had only fractures of the jaw and ankle and that his life was in no danger.
The photo shows a burnt car from the aftermath of the police chase. Several cars were torched despite the presence of riot police.
Note: Roubaix has been a city with a large immigrant population for a long time. Crime is rampant, and the residents close ranks against the authorities. It is surprising that the police would even venture into the "neighborhoods".
It is almost inevitable, in France today, that if a criminal is injured, however slightly, during a police chase, violence will break out in the neighborhoods. These neighborhoods belong to foreigners, not to France.