Brest does not give in to the sirens of the municipal police


The socialist mayor of Brest, François Cuillandre, in 2021.

In Brest, the memory of Héléna Cluyou is still in everyone’s mind. The 20-year-old girl who was pursuing her third year of nursing studies disappeared on the night of January 28-29 as she returned from a nightclub in the commercial port. His charred body was found on February 9 on the Crozon peninsula. The main suspect committed suicide shortly after this discovery. Six thousand people, according to the police, took part in a white march in memory of Héléna Cluyou on February 18, following her route from the nightclub, where she was last seen alive, to the Recouvrance district , where a CCTV camera captured its last image.

At the La Base restaurant, which adjoins the nightclub and where the main suspect worked, the team is gradually recovering: “Brest is not a safe city, especially for women, but it’s like that in all big cities unfortunately”, drop an employee.

After the shock, some voices took advantage of the tragic event to put the absence of municipal police back on the table. “If Brest is a state-run police commune, that does not exempt it from its full competence in crime prevention. We must have the human and technical resources to exercise it,” rebukes the right-wing and center opposition group Brest it’s you! in the February municipal bulletin in reaction to the disappearance of Héléna Cluyou. The city is the last French metropolis of more than 100,000 inhabitants not to have yielded to the sirens of the municipal police. Even Paris – Anne Hidalgo opposed it for a long time – adopted one in 2021.

“The local elected officials share the feeling that the problems of tranquility, of everyday life are not or no longer dealt with by the national police. There is pressure from part of the population and state services demanding shared production of security », says Virginie Malochet, sociologist, specialist in local security issues, author of a book on municipal police (PUF, 2007).

A transfer of skills in question

The socialist mayor of Brest, François Cuillandre, is not one of them. From his office in the imposing town hall, the first city councilor – the “Last of the Mohicans”, he laughs – explains: “Security is a sovereign skill. It is up to the State to ensure it everywhere in France. » And to regret the perverse effects that this transfer of responsibility to the municipalities would have caused. “You go back ten years, we said: ‘What are the police doing? Today is: “What does the mayor do?” I find it shocking.” plague the city councilor in office since 2001, deploring “unhealthy opportunism” of his opponents.

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