Don’t talk ‘tu’ suspects like that: French police ordered to be polite

The law enforcement officers have been explicitly banned fromspeaking to any members of the public using ‘tu,’ which isnormally used to address friends, family or younger children,according to a new 33-article code of conduct that comes intoeffect next month.Using ‘tu’ to a stranger can be considered derogatory orimpolite. However, French police are prone to employing the termwhen speaking to suspects.“For many police officers, using the familiar ‘tu’ is in theirDNA… it carries an implied threat,” an anonymous youth toldlocal news radio channel France Info. “It’s the kind of thingthat can quite naturally ignite a violent reaction and it’s alwaysthe youths who come off badly.”“Quite rightly a lot of young people refuse to be spoken to thisway,” he added.Instead, officers must now use ‘vous,’ a polite form ofaddress generally reserved for addressing those who are older, lessfamiliar or of higher standing.The new code was proposed by French Minister of the Interior ManuelValls, who hopes it will help the police “improve relations”with the population as a whole, which he believes should be centralto police training, France Info reported.Article 12, which deals with the police’s relationship with theFrench population, commands that officers “behave in allcircumstances in an exemplary fashion and with complete respect forthe dignity of individuals,” in the hope that it will inspiregreater respect in return.However, given the nature of police work, especially in areasdeemed to be inhabited by ‘troubled youths,’ this may meanthat officers have to deal with unpleasantness or impoliteness fromsuspects, who may not reciprocate the politeness.An unnamed officer told the radio station that using ‘tu’was “an indispensable tool for asserting authority.”The new code of conduct also instructs French policemen to giveassistance “within the limits of the means at his disposal,”and not to carry out identity checks based on physicalcharacteristics or distinctive signs.

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Don’t talk ‘tu’ suspects like that: French police ordered to be polite

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