Image by caribb via FlickrThe less than edifying spectacle of the Bobigny Seven being sent down doesn't do much for the image of the police in France.
In short, these officers attempted to cover up injuring one of their number in a car chase by claiming that the perpetrator was the driver of the car they were pursuing.
They put their heads together, fabricated evidence and, having beaten up the designated victim, sought to charge him with the crime.
They have just been found guilty by the court at Bobigny and been sent down.....to the fury of their colleagues who have been demonstrating outside the court en masse, armed, as they are, to the teeth.
Strange...it is illegal to demonstrate wearing a mask...or burqua, come to that....but fine if armed.
After all, if it wasn't, the police would have broken it up, wouldn't they....?
You might think that higher authority would be pleased to have had some rotten apples removed from the barrel, but this is Sarkozy's France.....the Interior Minister, Monsieur Hortefeux, who boasts a criminal conviction for racist remarks, is shocked at the disproportionality of the sentences.
What lack of proportion does he discern?
The man they attempted to fit up risked a sentence of several years if found guilty.....these chaps received between six months and one year in the jug.
There seems to be an attitude on the part of authority that the police...and gendarmes (here).... are untouchable and unaccountable....a relic of the nineteenth century laws that made any employee of the state immune from prosecution unless his bosses in Paris agreed to it, the reason being that if people were allowed to prosecute the servants of the state the 'natural animosity' felt towards them would mean that they would not be able to take a step without the fear of prosecution.
It has a sort of French logic to it, I suppose.
Still, bad publicity shouldn't be allowed to cover up the sterling work done by the forces of law and order.....
Leaving the occupants of illegal gypsy camps to steal anything not nailed to the ground for miles around while breathalysing pensioners on their way home from Sunday lunch with the family......
Refusing to come out to an incident of damage to a car and then arresting the complainant for outrage when he came to their heavily guarded fortress and was rash enough to complain to his mother on his mobile 'phone that they weren't interested in his little problems.....
Didn't their mothers ever tell them that listeners never hear any good of themselves, or did they take the maternal warning as an encouragement to up the rate of arrests for outrage?
Still, somebody loves them.
Andre, retired plumber, keen cyclist and president of the committee organising the annual cycle race round the local villages which attracts quite a few sponsored teams.
I was talking to his wife on Skype and she said that he is in despair about the 2011 race.
Because the price of the gendarmes is going up.
Suppressing the cynical thought that it was a bit much if the tariff for buying a gendarme was public knowledge I sought enlightenment.
Well, for the insurance, there have to be gendarmes to control things....the sponsors' cars and all that...and the busier crossings.....
Interjection from Andre
Like when that godon of a rosbif nearly drove through the peloton!
Reference being made to the never-to-be-forgotten-by-Andre incident when Mr. Poubelle, supremely self confident English expat, mistook the frantic waving of one of the race marshals for tribute to his status and, giving a royal wave, crossed the junction in one direction about two seconds before the first of the riders arrived on it at right angles.
As the rider said later
I could see myself in his car window...getting bigger and bigger....
And...wife resuming control of the telephone....they've been 2 Euros an hour for years and now they're going up to 12.4!
Only in France would a fee go up to something involving a decimal place...there must be one of those curses of France, a coefficient, in there somewhere.
And it'll be 20 Euros by 2014...Andre's had a circular from his association about it!
Well, that race has been going for years...but it's not a major event in the cycling world and it usually just about manages to break even, so an increase in the gendarme bit of the budget is going to hit the organisers really hard.
With local government already suffering the demise of the taxe professionelle and the influx of civil servants from central government to local government budgets there's not that much public money about for events, either...you know it's serious when the local council won't pay for the vin d'honneur....so it's no good Andre looking for an increase in the subsidy - he'll be lucky if it isn't reduced.
Local firms are feeling the pinch too.....it's not a good outlook.
I have an idea...but no one would take it up...it's just wishful thinking on my part.
If the gendarmerie would nip out on a Sunday and instead of breathalysing pensioners start handing out tickets to the lycra clad perverts who ride their bikes four abreast on the main road so that you can't overtake them and are forced to watch their multi coloured backsides jiggling about for miles, and if the money so raised could go to paying the gendarmes for their presence at the cycle race then Andre and his committee would be happy and the roads of rural France would be free of that crime against aesthetics, the French Sunday cyclist.