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In their own words: Why French police are in revolt

Police have staged protests for three nights in a row across France. Here's why they say they're fed up.

In their own words: Why French police are in revolt
"Solidarity with our colleagues". Police protesting near Paris. Photo: AFP
Hundreds of police have taken part in unauthorized protests across France over the past three nights. 
 
The catalyst for the protests was a vicious petrol bomb attack on four officers in a Paris suburb earlier this month.
 
In fact, police unions say some 500 officers are injured in the line of duty each month.
 
Add to this the fact that officers have been working under a state of emergency for almost a year, and it's no surprise they're fed up.
 
The government has promised talks with officers around France, and here are the complaints that they're likely to hear. 
 
Police protesting in Paris. Photo: AFP
 
Lack of resources
 
“We have fewer colleagues but we have the same resources. Everything is enormously complicated for the police. And it has become worse over the past few years,” an anonymous officer told the BFM TV channel in a lengthy interview.
 
“There just aren't enough of us, and we're not properly equipped. There can be just two of us having to respond to a group of ten people who don't want to see us,” he said. 
 
… that they have to pay for it 
 
Some officers have to pay for their own equipment, an anonymous policeman told France Info. 
 
“It costs us €70 for a vest that holds our gear, such as radio, gloves etc, that we can use instead of stuffing it all into our trouser pockets,” he said.
 
“It's even more expensive if it's bullet-proof. And we have to pay for these. Even the gloves.”

 
Police protesting in Marseille. Photo: AFP
 
Low pay and empty words
 
Another anonymous police officer told Breizh Info that conditions in general were “impossible”. 
 
“We're getting paid peanuts, we have crazy working hours, all this to end up being attacked and set on fire by police-killers who aren't afraid of the state anymore,” he said. 
 
“We're fed up with being praised by the minister (Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve) for how we keep our cool, while it's the warm blood of our colleagues that's running on the streets.”
 
Many officers have called for the minister, pictured below, to resign.
 
 Photo: AFP
 
“We're becoming like secretaries”
 
Yan Pissard, a police officer in central France's Châtellerault, said there's simply too much paperwork. 
 
“There are constantly more and more complaints and procedures coming in,” he told La Nouvelle République.
 
“We're open to the public 24/7 and having to write more things down than ever, notify everything in writing. We're police officers but we're also becoming more and more like secretaries.”
 
Police protesting in Toulouse. Photo: AFP

Scared about lack of safety
 
One officer said his wife was afraid for him when he went to work each day. 
 
Another told the Nice Matin newspaper: “We're fed up of going to work full of fear. We want the fear to switch sides.”
 
“All we want is to have the resources and the equipment to work safely,” another told BFM TV. 
 
“I want my colleagues to be safe, and to head home at the end of the day with a feeling of accomplishment.”
 
“I hope we can find some solutions and quickly. This movement is growing. I want us to be heard, and I want to get back down to work.”
 

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POLICE

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”

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