Eric Arella had been leading investigations into serious crime and in particular narcobanditism for seven years from Perpignan to Nice via Corsica and Marseille, one of the cities most affected by this scourge.

“It’s a shame, we blame him. He’s always been loyal,” a PJ source in Marseille told AFP. “Everyone is stunned, it’s a shock,” an executive from a central office of the judicial police told AFP.

The commissioners’ union protested against a “brutal and unfair decision”.

Same stupor on the justice side, where voices were also worried about the consequences of the reform of the PJ: the French Association of Instructing Magistrates (Afmi) denounced an “authoritarian mode of management” and the Marseille prosecutor, Dominique Laurens, regretted “a huge loss”, that of “a very great servant of the State”.

This eviction was confirmed to AFP by the General Directorate of the National Police (DGPN): “As with any reform, there are discussions, there may be disagreements. But such disloyalty is not acceptable” , said one in the entourage of its director.

Frédéric Veaux, director general of the national police, obviously did not appreciate his reception Thursday in Marseille by some 200 officers mobilized against the reform.

When he left the meeting, in an icy atmosphere, he was forced to split a hedge of policemen with arms crossed and silent, according to a video sent to AFP on Thursday.

“We do not at all understand the attitude of the minister, who is resigning our zonal director, who has simply made himself the spokesperson for all the staff of the PJ,” a department head told AFP. .

– “Thanks boss” –

Immediately after the announcement, hundreds of officers gathered across France. In Marseille, there were about 200 shouting “bravo”, “thank you boss”.

“Everyone came up, including the hierarchy,” said an officer in Nice, where a hundred police officers gathered in the presence of the boss of the Nice PJ. In Montpellier there were a hundred, in Toulouse 70, in Strasbourg around thirty.

“The results in Marseille are poor, with record levels of homicides, while the workforce has been considerably reinforced”, commented on Friday in the entourage of the DGPN.

Since the beginning of the year, 25 people have been shot dead in the Bouches-du-Rhône, in homicides linked to drug trafficking, according to the police headquarters. As throughout 2021.

In Marseille at the end of June, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin was nevertheless pleased that “here, 60% of these settlements of accounts are resolved”: “an extremely positive figure since, in France, we resolve about 30 % of attempted homicides”.

One certainty: the reform of the PJ arouses enormous reluctance.

Led by Gérald Darmanin and Frédéric Veaux, the project plans to place all the police services of a department – intelligence, public security, border police (PAF) and PJ – under the authority of a single Departmental Director of the national police (DDPN), answerable to the prefect.

The police stations “are overwhelmed with files. If we ask some of the PJ investigators to take charge of files that relate to public security, we will no longer be able to do our job”, worried Friday in Toulouse an investigator, member of the National Association of the Judicial Police (ANPJ).

“This reform carries danger in the short term, in less than 10 years, (…) since it exposes our fellow citizens to organized crime and cartels”, estimated for his part Thomas, spokesperson for the ANPJ in Marseille.

“There are organizational difficulties in the police, but at the PJ it works, despite the lack of arms and means”, analyzes Jean-Baptiste Perrier, professor of private law and criminal sciences at the University of Aix -Marseille, emphasizing the exceptional nature of this mobilization: “at the PJ they are rather silent”.

Mr. Arella will be replaced by Dominique Abbenanti, currently security attaché in Algiers, it was specified to the DGPN. Eric Arella will be in charge of his mission at the DGPN and not at the IGPN, the police force, as announced at first.