French police unit disbanded amid drug deals probes

PARIS (AP) — The Paris police chief is disbanding a special police unit in a poor suburb of the French capital after four officers were brought before a judge on Thursday for “particularly serious” accusations involving theft, drug possession and extorting money from drug dealers.

Paris police said in a statement that it will review the functioning of special police units so that they have a closer cooperation with local police forces. Procedures for recruitment of officers in these units will also be reviewed, it said.

News of the investigation has re-ignited French anger over police abuse, after weeks of protests in France demanding racial justice and accountability for officers who overstep their authority.

The four officers with the CSI 93 unit in the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris are the subject of a formal judicial inquiry.

In addition, about 15 other preliminary investigations are underway into officers at the unit for similar alleged violations, judicial authorities said.

Seine-Saint-Denis is the poorest region of mainland France and among its most ethnically diverse, including North African and Black populations that trace their roots to former French colonies.

The recent French protests were inspired by the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but focused more France’s own problems with discrimination and police brutality.

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