New police chief to help Paris move on from football fiasco

A new Paris police chief took office on Thursday, tasked with proving to the world that the French capital can handle mass events despite the disastrous handling of a recent Champions League match.

New police chief to help Paris move on from football fiasco
Newly-appointed Paris police chief Laurent Nunez attends a handover ceremony (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

Laurent Nunez, 58, took over from Didier Lallement who during his three-year stint was often criticised for heavy-handed police action, most recently at a Liverpool-Real Madrid game on May 28.

Faced with the build-up of frustrated crowds around the Stade de France, police used tear gas and pepper spray to move them back, also harming many children as well as disabled fans in wheelchairs.

Officials say Lallemant’s departure was not linked to the football fiasco, but Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin left no doubt that he expects Nunez to help fix Paris’s tarnished image as the capital prepares to host the summer Olympics in 2024.

“You will be the police chief in charge of the Olympic Games, and the entire police service must be focused on that task,” he said at Thursday’s handover ceremony.

Paris will also host the Rugby World Cup next year.

Among sources of friction between Lallemant and city hall, as well as President Emmanuel Macron, was his criticism of plans to hold part of the Olympic opening ceremony on the river Seine, which he and other police officials believed to be an unnecessary security risk.

Lallemant, who was unapologetic about his law-and-order approach, was also in open conflict with leftist parties over numerous incidents of police violence, including against Yellow Vest protesters.

“Didier Lallemant is leaving, good riddance,” tweeted Mathilde Panot, deputy for the leftwing LFI party. “We won’t forget the Yellow Vests who lost their eyes, or had their hands torn off, and the other injured demonstrators.”

Lallemant, 65, said in a farewell letter to staff that he was “proud of duty done”, but he also admitted “carrying the wound of the Stade the France failure”.

Paris employs some 28,000 police agents, plus 16,000 support staff.

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Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

Three French ministers, including the Prime Minister, are being sued over 'too high' speed bumps by a motoring organisation which claims they endanger safety and increase pollution.

Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

The association “For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” (Pour une mobilité sereine et durable) has filed a complaint against French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, along with Minister of Environment Christophe Béchu and Minister of Transport Clément Beaune, for endangerment and inaction, according to reporting by Ouest France.

The organisation’s lawyer, Rémy Josseaume, said that the subject of their complaint is the “general laxity” with which speed bumps have been implemented across the country.

The group also cited an increase in pollution as a result of the non-standard bumps, which explains why the ministers of transport and environment were targeted in the grievance.

According to RTL, the organisation has previously attempted to file complaints over “approximately 450,000 speed bumps of all types that do not comply with the regulations.” This most recent complaint has been filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic, accusing the ministers of “deliberately endangering the lives of others.”

The association cites a study conducted over the summer, which found that at least a third of French speed bumps are out of compliance. 

“There are particular consequences linked to noise problems, issues with cracks in certain houses” said Josseaume said to RTL. “These are extremely significant nuisances for fuel consumption and in terms of CO2 emissions.”

These findings have been supported by the Drivers Defence League found that “standard speed bumps increase fuel consumption by 10.5 to 13 percent; whereas, non-standard ones increase consumption by 26 to 28 percent,” the group told Ouest France in 2021.

“For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” hopes to see all of the non-compliant speed bumps fixed, meaning that they should not exceed ten centimetres in height, four metres in length, and that they should only be installed zones where the speed limit is below 30km/h. 

In addition to the complaint citing endangerment, Josseaume also told RTL that an appeal was filed against the State with the administrative court over inaction and a “serious failure to meet its obligations to combat pollution.”