French police trainees caught partying after Covid curfew hours

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French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin says police cadets involved in an illicit party on Wednesday evening will be excluded from the police force.

The secret party took place in the grounds of the police college in Nimes before France entered its second national lockdown on Friday but during the preceding period when Nimes and many other areas of the country were under curfew.

News of the gathering broke on Sunday when a journalist from French station BFMTV posted film of the event on Twitter.

People can be seen partying in the college car park, with loud music in the background.

The scene was filmed at around 9 pm on Wednesday apparently when members of the police dog-handling brigade, about to start shift, went to collect their dogs from the kennels in the college grounds and discovered the event.

A police source said an enquiry was already underway to try to establish exactly what happened with “around 50 police students” are accused of involvement.

Franck Groult, representative of the Alliance police trade union, told France 3 television station that although such an gathering was “totally unacceptable”, it was important to “differentiate between those who actually organized the party and those students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The police grounds spread out over 440,000 square metres – some students reportedly went to the car park to investigate the noise on returning from an evening run.

Nevertheless, Groult insisted that police officers “have a duty to be exemplary”. He said the penalties incurred “must befit the seriousness of such illegal conduct from a police officer”, adding that people could not be asked to enforce the law “if they do not abide by it themselves”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has demanded the results of the enquiry by today.

He announced on Monday morning that those proved to have organized the party as well as those who attended it would be expelled from the police training college in Nimes and excluded from the police force.

He insisted that “to be respected, you must respect the rules”. It was impossible to be a police officer “and disregard the rules that you enforce,” he declared.

The trainees found guilty will not graduate to become police officers but could also face a judicial investigation, if they are deemed to have used insulting or threatening language towards the dog-handling police officers who discovered the party.