After wearing the blue uniform for fifteen years, Julian decided to leave the gendarmerie. He settled with his family near Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and became a online sports coach. “For nothing in the world, I will not go back! laughs this 40-year-old man with an athletic build. He did not imagine, before committing, “that there was so much paperwork”. “I thought we would do more missions to help people when in the end, we were drowned in procedures. It was heavy. »
Assigned to a brigade in the Paris region, he was confronted with “stressful situations” and encountered “social misery” on a daily basis. A difficult job, with staggered hours, which requires a significant investment. After reflection, he “motivated himself to launch” into a new activity allowing him to live from his passion and to spend more time with his wife and children.
A record in 2021… Beaten in 2022
Julien is far from being the only one in this case. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of personnel leaving the national police and gendarmerie has been increasing”, writes the Court of Auditors in a report published last April. “The record for the number of departures within the police and the gendarmerie was beaten in 2021, then again exceeded in 2022, testifying to a fundamental phenomenon that has taken hold since the end of the health crisis. »
In 2022, the police experienced 10,840 departures, compared to 9,248 in 2018, an increase of 15%. For its part, the gendarmerie recorded 15,078 departures last year, against 10,880 four years earlier, an increase of 38%. “This phenomenon cannot be explained by retirements, which were generally stable over the period”, underlines the institution, which puts forward several reasons such as “the increase in secondments to other administrations” or “competition with the police municipal authorities, which are attracting more and more police and gendarmes”.
Municipal police competition
“There are a few who have arrived with us, but we also have difficulty recruiting”, nuance Fabien Golfier, national secretary of the FA-FPT municipal police. The advantage, for police officers and gendarmes wishing to work for a municipality, “is that they can go almost where they want in terms of geographical assignment. This is a plus for those who want to leave or return to the provinces. There is also a lighter workload, the conditions are very different, especially for the gendarmes, who can be worked at will, ”continues the trade unionist.
Most police officers who leave school are assigned to the Paris region. “However, the delays are very long to reach their region of origin”, observes Linda Kebbab, national secretary of the SGP Police-FO Unit union. This can explain, according to her, this wave of resignations. “With their experience, they manage to negotiate interesting positions in the municipal police, which have grown in strength in recent years,” she also notes.
“There are disappointments”
But the trade unionist advances other reasons for these departures. “Many enter the police with stars in their eyes and with the desire to practice the profession. But there are long-term disappointments and disappointments. They discover an administration that is not very human and not very grateful to its agents, which affects morale. »
“There were inevitably disappointed motivations following the wave of entry in 2015 and 2016”, analyzes Mathieu Zagrodzki, associate researcher at the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Penal Institutions (Cesdip), specialist in police and of security. “After the attacks, there were many applications from people who had the idea of protecting France and the Republic,” he recalls. But the daily life of police and gendarmes is not that. And many have not found their account. They found themselves doing small local surveys, intervening in neighborhood disputes, which did not quite correspond to the idea they had of the profession. »
A degraded recruitment
The sociologist also points to the disproportionate weight of the procedure which undermines the morale of agents and soldiers. “The police generally start in public security and the gendarmes in the territorial gendarmerie. They have to manage what is called petty justice: taking a complaint, an investigation into a snatching or an altercation at the exit of a bar. Eventually, they find themselves doing a lot of paperwork by not being on the ground much and not necessarily being able to solve these investigations. »
One of the consequences of this wave of departures from the police is the deterioration of the “quality of recruitment and training to comply with the political objective of a” massive recruitment of police and gendarmes “” , observes the Court of Auditors. Thus, “the admission rate for the peacekeeper competition increased from 2% in 2014 to 18% in 2020, while the peacekeeper and officer training courses had been shortened. “.