French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the presence of police officers and gendarmes on the ground will be doubled in ten years – despite repeated allegations of brutality and racism in the force.
Speaking at the National Police School in northern France, Macron said the budget of the interior ministry, which is supervising the police, will be expanded next year by 1.5 billion euros (USD 1.8 billion).
Macron also sought to respond to demands from police unions for action in areas including improving the training of officers, reducing the amount of paperwork and increasing their presence on the ground.
The president, however, said a new body composed of lawmakers from the National Assembly and the Senate will be in charge of assessing police actions.
“We must strive to be above reproach...When there are mistakes, they must be punished,” said Macron, adding that a parliamentary oversight body for the police force was necessary.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Macron said international investigation reports about allegations of police abuse and misconduct will now be made public. They must lead to “clear decisions” about officers and organization issues, he added.
A security law extending police powers entered into force earlier this year despite weeks of protests called by civil rights activists who feared it would threaten efforts to denounce abuses.
A video in November 2020 showed four white officers beating up an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio.
The attack on Michel Zecler caused widespread outrage and amplified complaints by the French Black Lives Matter activists about the rough tactics used against minorities.
In June 2020, thousands of French people took part in the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of Black American George Floyd at the hands of US police.
The protesters said Floyd's death echoed incidents in France, where several people have died or been seriously injured in custody or while being arrested.
France does not have an independent police watchdog. The ‘Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale’ (IGPN), which currently hears complaints, is composed mostly of police officers.