The Inspection Générale de la police nationale (IGPN), France’s internal police investigation unit, has opened an inquiry into alleged widespread drinking on the job by cops in the town of Cogolin, in the department of Var, it was reported this week.
Several within the force have been accused of indulging too enthusiastically in that great French tradition - the 'apéritif', or 'apero' as it is called.
The officers' reported love of a drink only emerged when the department’s chief was pulled over in mid-June during a routine traffic stop, According to the local police officers’ union, SNPM-FO.
He was found to be driving his patrol car without proper identification, and when tested, had a blood-alcohol beyond the legal limit.
This revelation, however, has proven only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the misdeeds of municipal police in the town of Cogolin.
“Everything seems to be an excuse for organising a drink; the swearing in of a new officer, local festivals, and so on,” a representative from the local SNPM-FO union told regional daily Var Matin.
“They have an apéritif on Tuesday, then on Friday, and then on Saturday morning,” the union rep said, adding his voice to widespread claims that the police department in the town is out of control and has lost the respect of the people of Cogolin.
The local cops, however, appear not to be entirely unified in their alleged proclivity for partying.
The officer in charge of the department’s night-time division is also being investigated by the IGPN for allegedly engaging in secret video surveillance of his underlings within the forces of law and order in Cogolin.
Both he, and the chief of police, are out on sick leave, though neither has been suspended during the internal investigation, according to Var Matin.