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11 Oct, 2019 16:37

2 Paris police officers disarmed and suspended as department aims at radicalisation in its own ranks – reports

2 Paris police officers disarmed and suspended as department aims at radicalisation in its own ranks – reports

Two Paris police officers have reportedly been disarmed, with one suspended from duty. It comes after a radicalised police IT specialist slashed four colleagues to death on October, 3.

Mickaël Harpon, a police computer specialist who prosecutors say followed a “radical vision of Islam,” stabbed three officers and an administrator to death at Paris’ police headquarters last Thursday, before he was shot dead by a patrolman. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner described Harpon’s attack as a “serious failure” of the state to detect “signs of radicalization.”

Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement advised officers on Monday to “immediately report” signs of “possible radicalization of an agent,” Le Parisien reported. The newspaper described an atmosphere of “paranoia” spreading through the ranks.

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Two officers have already been disciplined, the newspaper says. One, at Paris’ Villeneuve-la-Garenne police station, was disarmed. He earlier began praying in work, refused to shake hands with women, and proselytized to his colleagues. The officer had already been dismissed from the force last year for his behavior, but was later reinstated after filing an appeal.

The officer had been in the spotlight before, after he was photographed with a friend of the terrorist who plowed his vehicle into six soldiers in the city in 2017. He later told a terrorism investigation that appearing in the photograph was “a mistake.”

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Another officer, also based in Paris, has been disarmed and suspended for similar activity. In 2011, the officer was reported for refusing to contact female staff and for praying during work after marrying a Muslim. However he was not considered to have been a radicalized person at that point.

Paris’ police department is a venerable and sprawling institution, dating back to the 17th century and employing more than 34,000 people. The intelligence division which Harpon worked in operates autonomously from the national security agency, the DGSI, and has been criticized by DGSI personnel for its supposedly weak background checks and operational security.

Yet, the department has never had to investigate its own members for Islamic radicalization before, at least not publicly.

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