Paris creates new police force to tackle litter, noise and parking

A total of 154 municipal police officers began patrolling the streets of Paris on Tuesday - marking the first time the capital has had a local force to focus on low-level but annoying problems such as noise, litter and bad parking.

Municipal police officers attend their official presentation ceremony  in front of Paris City Hall.
Municipal police officers attend their official presentation ceremony in front of Paris City Hall. Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo presented the first intake of Police Municipale (Municipal Police) officers during a ceremony at City Hall on Monday, October 18th.

Most larger French towns and cities already have a locally-led municipal police force, who focus on offences such as anti-social behaviour and traffic offences, but Paris has long been the exception.

For many years, Hidalgo was opposed to the idea, but in January 2019, she announced her intention to create a Municipal Police force in the capital, ending an exception which dates back to 1800. Hidalgo said the new force “will be totally ready in 2024 to welcome the entire world to Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic games”.

The new officers will be present across the 20 arrondissements, will patrol the city on foot or on bicycles, and will be equipped with bulletproof jackets, body cameras, batons and tear gas – but will not be armed.

The lack of lethal weapons has not been well-received by everybody in the city. “Having bulletproof jackets but nothing to defend themselves with is anachronistic and rather illogical,” Geoffroy Boulard, mayor of the 17th arrondissement, told Europe 1.

It is up to local authorities to decide whether the Municipal Police should be armed – just over half of officers across the country carry a firearm.

What is their job?

The 154 men and women will be responsible for four main areas, City Hall has said: “Ensure the cleanliness of the city, make sure Parisians are safe, protect pedestrians and the most vulnerable road users, pacify the city notably in the evening and during the night.”

Part of their role will be to respond to what are referred to in French as incivilités (incivility), including offences such as fly-tipping, throwing cigarette butts on the ground, noise disturbances, and traffic offences such as illegal parking.

They do have the power of arrest, but must deliver any arrested person to the Police Nationale (National Police).

The new officers will work alongside this existing force. Today, the National Police officers responsible for policing the capital report to the préfet de police de Paris, following a decision by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1800 to put the centralised state in charge of the city’s policing.

“A Municipal Police which does its job well will free up the National Police to concentrate on its principal missions: combating delinquency, drug trafficking and terrorism,” said Nicolas Nordman, deputy mayor in charge of security.

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In recent years, Paris had already begun taking on more responsibility for its own security, with the creation of the Direction de la prévention, de la sécurité et de la protection (Prevention, Security and Protection Authority). The 3,400 members of that authority will gradually be trained to become part of the Municipal Police.

By 2026, the city eventually hopes to have 5,000 people in charge of security, including 3,400 Municipal Police officers, adding to the 24,000 already in place in other cities across the country.

Police watchdog

“In order to better meet the expectations of Parisians, their police must be in their image,” Hidalgo said during the presentation on Monday.

This includes a focus on gender equality – almost 40 percent of the first intake are women – as well as focusing on the social backgrounds of officers, with a new training centre set to be created in Paris.

The Mayor also announced the creation of an “ethics committee” to ensure that officers do not abuse their powers.

Member comments

  1. I wonder if they will have the power to force dog owners to clear their dog’s mess from the street if they don’t do that voluntarily?

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

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