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French police lifeguards get guns for summer beach patrol

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French police lifeguards get guns for summer beach patrol
Photo: AFP
09:56 CEST+02:00
Authorities in France have given specialist police lifeguards the right to carry arms when they patrol French beaches this summer. It marks a first in France.

The move is a direct consequence of the terror threat facing French police that brutally revealed itself in the double murder of a policeman and his partner at their home in Magnanville near Paris earlier this month.

As a result CRS lifeguards who monitor some of the busier beaches in France will have the right to carry their guns, Europe1 radio reported.

“This is the first time that these officers will be armed. Normally throughout July and August they are in their swim suits and unarmed,” said Nicolas Comte from the SGP-FO police union.

Only those officers in charge of first aid centres will be able to carry their weapons or their replacements.

Their weapons will be kept in special cases that are adapted specially for the swimwear worn by officers.

While the measure might sound and look extreme, police officers in France are increasingly fearful of the threat against them.

The measure is necessary to “ensure their safety," said Comte.

“We can see these days that the police are the target of terrorists, but this is also to ensure the police are ready to respond in the event of an armed attack,” said Comte.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone. It means that there are people to provide security for everyone when they are on the beach,” the union official added.

Comte said that the French public and tourists should not be alarmed by the measure, however.

“Holidaymakers will not see police in heavy armour, they will see lifeguards,” he said.

The number of CRS police stationed at beach resorts this summer, however, will be significantly reduced due to the need to post them elsewhere during the state of emergency.

According to French media LCI there will be 297 officers on duty to patrol beaches this year compared to 460 last year.

The move to allow police lifeguards to carry their guns is just the latest measure made at the behest of a worried police force in France.

After the double murder at Magnanville, the French government said it would allow police in France to carry their arms at all times even while off duty.

Initially that measure was brought in for the duration of the state of emergency, which is due to come to an end before August. 

But the brutal killing persuaded the government to make the move permanent.

 

 

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