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New call to arm municipal police

Mayor of Marseille says that local officers may routinely carry guns in future following terror attacks in Paris

MUNICIPAL police officers in Marseille could be routinely armed in future, the city’s mayor of has said.

Jean-Claude Gaudin - who for many years opposed the idea of arming local police - said that, following the attacks in Paris, he “would not rule out” the possibility that police municipale officers in the city could carry guns in future.

Officers in Marseille have been armed with Tasers since November 2013 following an upsurge in violence in the city.

He said: “Following the dramatic events we need to think about the possibility of arming municipal police. For now, we’re only using non-lethal weapons - and before they can be armed, they must be trained.”

Mr Gaudin was speaking as police unions met interior ministry officials, where they pressed for more weapons and protective gear, better training for first-responders, and more legal tools to guard against terrorists.

This latest call comes after unarmed local police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe was gunned down as she attended an incident in the Montrouge area of Paris less than 24 hours after two police officers were among those killed in the massacre at the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Police believe she was shot by suspected terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, who later killed four shoppers in the siege at a kosher food store in Paris.

David Meseray, vice-president of the National Office of Municipal Police, warned that the country’s 20,000 municipal police officers are “worried and angry”.

He said that, despite regular demands, “nothing had changed” since local police officer Aurelie Fouquet was gunned down by armed robbers in Villiers-sur-Marne in 2010.

“Our demands to arm our municipal police officers have not been heard,” he said.

The mayor of Montrouge, where officer Jean-Philippe worked is opposed to arming municipal police.

Jean-Loup Metton told Le Figaro: "Municipal police are intended to provide oversight and safety on the road.

“In Montrouge, officers wear protective flak jackets. In this case, officer Jean-Philippe was the victim of a madman, whose blind behaviour would have not have changed whether she was armed or not.”

The paper also quoted a local officer in Seine-et-Marne, who said he believed that if officer Jean-Philippe and her colleague, who was not injured in the attack but is still being treated for shock, had been armed they would have been able to return fire and maybe “confuse and slow down the killer and his plans”.

The head of the Association of Mayors in France (AMF), François Baroin, has added his voice to the calls for better protection for municipal police, demanding that they be issued with bulletproof vests and improved communication links with armed colleagues in the national police and gendarmerie.

Mr Baroin stopped short of calling for the arming of local police, saying such a decision “must remain subject to the mayor's request, depending on the tasks performed, locations and hours of operation, and subject to the approval of prefect”.

The AMF remains committed to the principle of “free administration of local communities”, he said.

Also read: Public back guns for local police

Municipal police Taser ban lifted

Photo: Cayetano

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