Valentin Gendrot is a french journalist who recently infiltrated the country’s police force as a means of observing what types of racist and violent patterns occur within the force behind-the-scenes. He claimed the violence was so frequent that it almost “became boring,” describing an incident in which another officer forced him to help falsify evidence against a young adult who had been severely beaten by an officer.
“It really shocked me to hear police officers, who are representatives of the state, calling people who were black, Arab or migrants ‘bastards’, but everyone did it. It was only a minority of officers who were violent … but they were always violent.”
One of the biggest takeaways Gendrot claimed to gain from his time on the force was the discovery of how poorly trained and paid police recruits are, and how the stress of the job is so constant and hostile that it makes sense there’s such a high rate of depression and suicide for police officers.
Gendrot spent about six months in a police station in Paris in an area that’s known for having extreme tensions between law enforcement and citizens. He wrote a book on his experiences titled Flic (cop), which was published this past Wednesday. Within the book he revealed that he was given a uniform and gun after about three months of training, and was later sent out on patrol. He recounted often witnessing officers assaulting younger individuals; many of which were minors. He claims these assaults occurred every single day, but the “clannish system ensures officers close in rank can protect their own.”
“They don’t see a youngster, but a delinquent … once this dehumanisation is established everything becomes justifiable, like beating up an adolescent or a migrant.”
The officers always had the attitude that they were untouchable, and knew they could choose when they wanted to be violent at their own will if they pleased. In Gendrot’s specific commissariat he recounted being surrounded by “racists, homophobic, and macho comments every day.”
Genrot’s book, Flic, was published in extreme secrecy due to the sensitive undercover nature of the narrative. Only a few media publications have been granted access to the books manuscript before it was published, and Genrot wants future readers to understand that the book is “not anti-police. It’s a factual account of the day-to-day life of a police officer.” He made it a point to remain objective in his narrations and simply state what he witnessed and heard on a daily basis.
After his three months of training, Genrot finished 27th out of a class of 54 and was issued a uniform and pistol. He immediately was stationed to a Paris district with over 190,000 residents; this particular area is known for having a problem with juvenile drugs and prostitution as well. During one of his first patrols he recalled an officer beating up a teenage migrant in the back of a police van, after which the officer turned to him and said: “what happens in the van stays in the van.”
The beaten up teenager ended up filing an official complaint against the police, however, Gendrot’s colleagues made up a story and insisted the adolescent boy gave false information and evidence, which then caused the teen to get charged with falsifying evidence; something that’s punishable by a large fine and potential time in prison.
The book itself is not for the faint of heart, as it’s filled with countless stories like the one above that Gendrot personally witnessed on a daily basis. In a time where law enforcement and political tensions are running high all around the world, Gendrot believes now is the perfect time to publish this book and raise some awareness about what goes on behind-the-scenes with the individuals who are meant to protect and serve the public.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.