The Paris Metropolitan Police Department has relieved seven of its officers of their firearms after fears arose that they had become radicalized Islamists.
The administrative action comes a month after an October 3 incident where a radicalized employee of the police department turned his gun on fellow officers at Paris police headquarters.
After the incident, officials began encouraging officers to report any evidence that a fellow officer had become a radicalized Muslim.
Not only the police have to worry, though. French President Emmanuel Macron urged vigilance in all walks of life. Macron urged people to be “on the lookout at school, at work, in places of worship, close to home” for “little gestures” and signs of radicalization.
Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement told the media that 33 reports of suspected radicalization had been handed in and the seven officers were disarmed after the reports were investigated. Along with the seven officers, Lallement recommended that two other officers and one police employee be fired.
On October 3, police computer technician Mickaël Harpon, 45, went on a killing spree that ended with his own death in the courtyard of the department’s Paris HQ.
One of Harpon’s victims, who happened to be the deputy head of the police intelligence services, had previous warned about Harpon’s radicalization, but nothing was done about the warning.
Chief Lallement admitted to lawmakers that he had never expected such an attack to come from within his own department. “During the attack, I myself thought that we were being attacked from the outside,” Lallement exclaimed.
According to French lawmakers, there are currently 28 officers under suspicion of radicalization across France. There are 150,000 police officers in the country, but countless more police employees.
Lawmakers also noted that one thing that should cause concern is when someone converts to Islam. In the west, converts are often more dangerous and radical than those born into the religion.
Still, Chief Lallement warned that merely being a Muslim is not enough to cause worry.
Lallement said that a conversion must not lead to a “systematic denunciation.”
“That’s not how we proceed,” he concluded.
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