Last month Paris’ new Municipal Police force officially launched, with 154 new agents patrolling on foot and bicycle throughout the city, with a plan to raise it to 3500 agents over the next five years. Their job is to ensure public safety and “keep the peace” by intervening in local situations before they escalate, such as noise complaints, vandalism, littering, illegal parking, and other incivilities, so the regular (armed) police force can better deal with the more severe crimes (drugs, theft, assault, riots, etc). The Municipal Police can be contacted 24/7 by dialing 3975, but you can also meet your local officers at the designated neighborhood “totems” at regular times each week.
Since I thought many of you — especially residents — would like to know more about their role, recruitment, and relation to the National Police, I have translated the official article from the Marie de Paris website, “La police municipale se déploie dans les rues de Paris” here for you! I’m not a professional translator, so please excuse any awkward phrasing.
The Municipal Police Deploy in the Streets of Paris
From Monday 18 October, the new Parisian municipal police force will deploy its staff in public spaces. What are its missions? How many people are there? How does it intervene in our streets and gardens and what is its training? We explain everything here.
What exactly are the missions of the Municipal Police?
The Parisian Municipal Police is a police force that intervenes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, within close proximity to the local residents of each neighborhood. They can also be contacted by dialing 3975 (24/7).
Its objective is to ensure police presence on the streets of Paris. This concerns every kind of traffic violation (cars, bikes, scooters), but also public tranquility and safety.
The municipal police officers patrol on foot or by bicycle to keep neighborhoods safe and calm, and to ensure that public space is shared respectfully.
It has three main missions:
- Prevention: the municipal police will be a police force of prevention — dialogue and mediation — as close as possible to young people and vulnerable populations.
- Security: the municipal police provide a visible and reassuring presence in the public space, at times and places where public disturbances happen most frequently (evenings, weekends, etc.).
- Sanctions: the municipal police continue to fight against all forms of incivility (throwing cigarette butts on the ground, littering, illegal dumping, noise pollution, road safety, illegal parking). As a reminder, each of these incivilities can be punished by a fine ranging from 35€ to 135€. Tickets issued in 2020: 1,305,954; in the first half of 2021: 535,508 tickets.
The Paris Municipal Police is a local police force, not an emergency police force.
Its duties are:
- to maintain peace and quiet in neighborhoods, sensitive facilities, and major festive, cultural or local events (flea markets, etc.) by its very presence;
- to fight against all forms of daily incivilities (illegal dumping, public urination, cigarette butts, noise pollution, illegal street vendors, misuse of green spaces, vandalism, tagging, etc.), incivilities such as noise in the streets and green spaces caused by passers-by, vehicles, etc.
- protecting and monitoring municipal buildings and green spaces, closing them down in emergencies during bad weather, keeping a night watch on residential areas and municipal facilities, and securing municipal areas with high tourist traffic;
- to ensure safe circulation throughout the city, i.e. to ensure road protection (control of illegal parking, respect for bus lanes, cycle paths, etc.), to preserve the safety of pedestrians (refusal of priority, electric scooters, etc.);
- enforcing compliance with anti-pollution standards (Crit air stickers), sharing of public space (keeping sidewalks clear, regulation of street vendors and terraces, green spaces, pedestrianization, Paris Respire, etc.);
- assisting vulnerable populations, the elderly or disabled, providing shelter for the homeless, finding homes for migrants and unaccompanied minors, preventing brawls, assisting with complaints (child abuse, domestic violence, LGBTQI+ victims of discrimination, etc.).
The creation of the Municipal Police is therefore done in strict compliance with the current distribution of powers between the Mayor of Paris and the Prefecture de Police, who remains the main authority in matters of security in Paris.
On the contrary, the Municipal Police will enable the National Police to refocus on its priority missions and therefore do more for the security of Parisians (the fight against crime, drug trafficking, pimping, burglaries, assaults, domestic violence, terrorism, etc.). The Prefecture of Police continues to be the authority in charge of protest demonstrations in Paris.
Can the Paris Municipal Police be contacted directly?
Yes, the Paris municipal police can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialing 3975, which connects you with the Operational Command Room.
Today, the municipal agents in charge of security can be reached via the “Dans ma Rue” application, by email, by post or on social networks (Facebook and Twitter). The aim is to create more direct links with the local residents.
Thanks to the meeting points (totems) positioned in various places throughout the city, the Municipal Police already receives the complaints of Parisians directly, but it wants to go further by creating an “observatory of public peace”, which will make it possible to collect the opinions and expectations of Parisians in this area and to establish a panorama of the neighborhoods, and therefore of all of Paris. This observatory will also report to Parisians, in complete transparency, on the actions of the Parisian Municipal Police.
What is the size of the municipal police force?
There will be 3,500 Municipal Police officers by the end of the mandate. The reform allows for the creation of a single corps of Municipal Police officers including the former Paris Security Inspectors (ISVP) and the Paris Surveillance Agents (ASP), which have now merged. Recruitment will be carried out primarily in favor of local divisions for greater territorialization and the ambition will be to move towards greater parity.
How were the municipal police officers trained and recruited?
The training of Municipal Police officers is provided by a school for security professions in Paris, which was created in spring 2021. All newly recruited Municipal Police officers will receive the same training as that provided by the National Centre for Territorial Public Service (CNFPT) to Municipal Police officers from other local authorities.
Current officers will be integrated into the Paris Municipal Police force after completing additional training that takes into account their professional experience and previous training. The duration of this additional training is set by decree in the Council of State and guarantees a level and quality of training equivalent to the training provided to all Municipal Police officers in France.
The City of Paris wished to integrate four specific priority modules into the initial training of officers: training in life-saving techniques, training against street harassment, training against violence against women and training against LGBTphobia.
How are they equipped?
As far as weaponry is concerned, the officers are equipped with a defensive baton, a tear gas canister, a pair of handcuffs and a bulletproof vest. They are also equipped with pedestrian cameras to protect and guarantee the transparency of their actions towards Parisians. They do not have lethal weapons.
How is the Municipal Police force organized?
A new territorial organization has been introduced with seventeen public tranquility divisions, one per arrondissement. The police officers who make up these divisions will deal with everyday incivilities and will travel on foot or by bicycle to be as close to the people as possible. Paris will be divided into micro-neighborhoods and the Municipal Police officers who patrol them will know their neighborhoods and the people who live and work there (shopkeepers, caretakers, etc.).
What fines for what offenses?
Each incivility is liable to be fined up to €135. This concerns:
- dumping on the streets or public spaces
- dumping in connection with a street sale
- throwing cigarette butts on the ground
- irregular presentation of refuse bins for collection
- public urination
- illegal vendor stalls and sidewalk terraces
- infringements of the rules governing green spaces
- offences related to animals
- noise pollution
- infringements of food market regulations
- various types of littering
Some key figures for fines in the first half of 2021:
- 19,803 fines for littering
- 8,548 fines for dumping in connection with street vending
- 3,364 fines for throwing cigarette butts on the ground
- 3,498 fines for offences related to a building site
- 1,519 fines for public urination
Are the Paris Municipal Police responsible for fighting drug trafficking?
No, this does not change. In Paris, as elsewhere in France, the dismantling of drug trafficking is the responsibility of the National Police.
Can the Municipal Police in Paris carry out identity checks, stop individuals or search luggage?
Parisian Municipal Police officers cannot carry out identity checks, but only take identity records if an offense has been committed, unless they are under the responsibility of a National Police officer.
Similarly, Municipal Police officers cannot arrest individuals, except in the case provided for in Article 73 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (apprehension of the perpetrator of a flagrant crime or offense).
Finally, Municipal Police officers (as well as private security agents assigned by the City of Paris), when assigned to the security and control of a municipal building, a sports, recreational or cultural event, may carry out a visual inspection of luggage.
Can Parisian Municipal Police officers register complaints?
No, this is the role of the National Police in the Paris police stations. However, social workers (social assistants from the City of Paris) are now present in ten Parisian police stations to help the most vulnerable people file a complaint, such as the elderly, female victims of violence, or victims of discrimination.
Within the framework of the Paris Municipal Police, the City of Paris wanted social workers to be present in each central Paris police station in order to improve this local support for the most vulnerable victims.
Are the Parisian Municipal Police officers present in the evening and at weekends?
The Municipal Police are already present in the evening, at night and at weekends. The objective is precisely to increase the number of staff in the late afternoon and evening, which are the most anxiety-provoking times for Parisians.
Can Parisian Municipal Police officers be requisitioned to maintain law and order?
Municipal officers can only be requisitioned by the Prefecture de Police within the framework of their official duties. Municipal Police officers, as is the case for current municipal officers, particularly those in charge of traffic, roads or cleanliness, can be requisitioned by the Prefecture de Police in the context of major events in public spaces. However, under no circumstances can they be requisitioned to maintain order, which is the responsibility of the National Police.
Are cameras used to issue fines?
In order to make the protection of road users and pedestrians more effective, the City of Paris has been experimenting with video ticketing since September 2018. This experiment has been conclusive and is now being continued and developed progressively, in particular to ensure respect for bus lanes, bicycle lanes and pedestrian areas.
In addition, video-protection cameras are present in the public space and are part of a state-run system managed by the Prefecture de Police. The latter provides the City of Paris with certain cameras that are useful for regulating the public space.
Summary: Duties of the Municipal Police and the National Police
Present in all neighborhoods 24 hours a day, the main tasks of the Municipal Police officers are to ensure the tranquility of the public space and municipal facilities, and to prevent and combat incivilities. In a broader sense, they must also ensure that the “rules of daily life” are respected in order to reassure the population, create social ties, penalize those breaking the law if necessary, and adapt their responses to the situation.
- Ensure the security of people, property and institutions: The National Police are responsible for combating petty and medium-scale crime. It is involved in the front line against urban violence and road insecurity and is an important instrument of crime prevention.
- Controlling migration flows and combating illegal work: The National Police ensure compliance with the rules governing cross-border traffic. It leads and coordinates the fight against crime in these areas at national level through the Central Office for the Repression of Illegal Immigration and the Employment of Foreigners without Permission.
- Combating organized crime, serious crime and drugs: This role is primarily assigned to the Judicial Police with the regional intervention groups (GIR), which bring together police officers, gendarmes, customs officers and tax agents in the fight against the various types of trafficking that feed the underground economy, and particularly the fight against drug trafficking.
- Protecting the country against external threats and terrorism: The Counter-Terrorism Coordination Unit centralizes the information provided and works to protect the country against terrorism.
- Maintaining public order: With the Republican Security Companies and its mobile units, the National Police are responsible for maintaining law and order. It participates in securing the population in sensitive areas and in helping people.
How are the links with the National Police organized?
The City of Paris already has a coordination agreement with the National Police, which will be updated. The missions and duties of each will be very clearly specified. It is thus possible to carry out joint operations, for example linked to street vending, or during the sheltering of refugees.
What are the expectations for security in Paris?
To refine its objectives, in 2018 the City of Paris carried out an audit on “the safety of Parisians in their daily lives” with 200 institutional actors in the field of safety in Paris and commissioned a survey of Parisians. The survey revealed that incivilities are the main concern for 64% of Parisians (illegal dumping, dog poop, public urination, tags, cigarette butts, etc.), followed by verbal aggression in the public space (61%), noise pollution (50%), street harassment of women (47%) and incivilities related to parking.
More than three-quarters of Parisians would like to see the city’s policy of fining incivilities strengthened to be more effective, while they consider that the National Police should give priority to enforcing the law and maintaining order. Thus, 82% of Parisians are in favor of the creation of a Municipal Police force to respond to their concerns regarding crime prevention and the fight against incivilities.
Parisians expect to be protected from aggression, from annoying behavior that dominates public spaces and to be able to move around safely and easily. They want a clean and calm city thanks to the fight against public nuisance, and to be reassured by the presence of a large number of officers in the public space.
The objective of this Municipal Police force is to be visible throughout the day, present in all neighborhoods according to needs, in direct contact with the inhabitants in the public space in order to solve everyday problems and prevent conflicts.
This article is a translation of an article published by the Mairie de Paris (City Hall) website in French: https://www.paris.fr/pages/tout-savoir-sur-la-police-municipale-parisienne-16970