French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to his country’s Mediterranean coast to talk about internal security, making a stop in the city where an extremist drove a cargo truck into a crowd on Bastille Day in 2016, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds.
r Macron has not yet officially confirmed that he is running for a second term in the French presidential election on April 10, but his visit to the French town of Rivera, in Nice, had campaign connotations because it is a stronghold conservatives and supporters of the French right.
Valérie Pecresse, presidential candidate for the conservative Republicans party, is considered by many to be the most important challenger to centrist Macron.
Mr Macron met with law enforcement, justice and city officials, checking the progress of security-related projects put in place in 2017 when he was elected.
The town hall meeting with dozens of law enforcement officials and local elected officials seated in a courtyard took place in the former Saint Roch hospital, a 19th century building in the heart of Old Nice.
In his remarks, Mr Macron symbolically laid the foundation stone for a state-funded police compound in the old hospital, which is still dotted with signs pointing to medical services.
Yet during the 90-minute exchange, Mr Macron barely mentioned the current wave of coronavirus fueled by the rapidly spreading omicron variant.
He replaced his mantra of the past few months which underscores the government’s strategy to end the pandemic, “vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate”, with a new sentence: “Protect, protect, protect.” “
“We have invested heavily in our security forces to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Macron said.
“People have the right to live in peace every day, but there is much more to be done,” Macron said, citing the need to tackle gang violence, domestic violence, drug trafficking and sexual violence.
By 2025, the Saint Roch will become a huge police center, where more than 2,000 national and municipal officers will work together with cutting-edge technology, including video surveillance.
Work should start next year.
In September, Mr Macron announced measures to make police operations more transparent, including the publication of internal investigative reports and the creation of a parliamentary oversight body, efforts to improve public confidence that has been eroded by the police scandals of recent years.
Rights organizations have repeatedly criticized police brutality in France, particularly against members of the country’s racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
Like the United States, France has witnessed protests against allegations of racism, injustice and impunity for violence by law enforcement agencies.
Mr Macron said part of the solution is to put more police on the streets and on public transport, especially to tackle violence against women.
“This is where women are most vulnerable and we must do everything to protect them,” Macron said, pledging to double the number of officers dealing with domestic violence to 4,000 in total.
He also called for more training for French police in dealing with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and assault, and detailed the application of a controversial law to fight radicalization after a series of Islamic extremist attacks.
Three women were found dead on New Years Day across France, allegedly killed by their partners, despite efforts by Mr Macron’s government to tackle domestic killings.