“This reform of the police, no one had the courage to do it”, assures the minister, defending a “courageous, essential and difficult” project, two days after the outcry caused by the ousting of the director of the PJ of the southern area.

The minister must also address Monday morning to all the civil servants of the PJ in a letter of which the AFP has knowledge. He assures that the reform will not be finalized “before the second half of 2023”. Until now the minister spoke of an implementation “current 2023”, without further details.

The dispute over the reform of the PJ rose a notch with the dismissal on Friday of Eric Arella, respected boss of the southern PJ, arousing indignation among the police and in the judicial world.

Mr. Arella paid for the stormy visit the day before by the Director General of the National Police (DGPN) Frédéric Veaux. Coming to Marseille to present his reform, he was forced to cross a “hedge of dishonor” formed by some 200 investigators opposed to the project and the video went viral on social networks.

The reform “shakes up habits and it is normal that it arouses disputes” but “certain limits must not be crossed”, insists the minister in Le Parisien, denouncing the “shocking images” of this demonstration.

Asked about the eviction of Eric Arella, Gérald Darmanin returned the responsibility to the DGPN: “the bond of trust between them was broken”, according to the minister.

“It is obvious” that some demonstrators “could be liable for sanctions”, continues the minister, specifying however that he has asked the Central Director of the Judicial Police, Jérome Bonet, “to have a sense of appeasement”.

A remark that “goes very badly” in the ranks of the judicial police, commented Sunday evening to AFP an investigator. “It’s making fun of the world”, he adds, “a real measure of appeasement would be to review the reform”.

– No substantive change –

The controversial draft plans to place all department-wide police services – intelligence, public security, border police (PAF) and judicial police (PJ) – under the authority of a single Departmental Director of the National Police (DDPN), depending on the prefect.

The 5,600 agents of the PJ would be integrated into an investigation sector, alongside those of public security, in charge of everyday crime.

Opponents denounce the risk of a “leveling down” of the prestigious PJ, responsible for the most complex crimes and investigations, and a strengthening of the weight of the prefect in the investigations.

On the merits of the reform, Gérald Darmanin does not initiate change, but repeats being open to some negotiations, as he has already said on several occasions.

As announced on Friday before the union of internal security executives (SCSI), he explains in the daily newspaper that he “ordered an audit”, with which the general inspection of justice must be associated and which “will be made in mid-December”. Either after the professional elections.

Discussions will then open “with the trade unions to amend the reform according to the remarks”, adds Mr. Darmanin.

“Apparently, the minister has heard our repeated requests for a moratorium in order to take the time to address all the stumbling blocks that we have been raising for months,” greeted AFP Patrice Ribeiro, from the Synergie- Officers.

The national association of judicial police (ANPJ) without a union label, said it was unconvinced by the new declarations of Gérald Darmanin.

“We are not at all reassured by the fact that the minister is avoiding the issue of the chain of command,” a vice-president of the ANPJ, created during the summer in the wave of protest against the reform, told AFP. .

“He does not change lines”, also reacts an investigator from a central office. According to him, “it is absolutely necessary to provide for an operational level between the department and the central offices. This is one of the challenges of the reform on which the minister must make overtures”.

The opposition has also risen to the political level, with in particular a platform of Socialist parliamentarians, who denounced a reform carried out for the sake of “pure budgetary rationalization” and “dangerous”. An adjective also used by Jean-Luc Mélenchon in a tweet.