“Police officers need human and material means to be able to go work safely in these neighborhoods!” says Mayor of French city of Viry-Châtillon

Several police officers, who were on a surveillance mission in the French town of Viry-Châtillon, a southern suburb of Paris, were targeted by an attack from a group of ten people who threw cocktail Molotov inside their cars on October 8. Four police officers suffered injuries including burns to their hands and faces and two were in life-threatening conditions. It was announced yesterday that their lives were no longer in danger. Today we give Viry-Châtillon’s mayor, Mr. Jean-Marie Vilain, a chance to speak about his town and what he needs to make it safe again.

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 What would your city need today?

Jean-Marie Vilain: Today, Viry-Châtillon, and most of all its residents need serenity. They have an urgent need for security. For this, we must all take our responsibilities: state, local authorities, officials. In Viry-Châtillon we have done the necessary by increasing the number of police officers and by giving them better equipment (new vehicles, bulletproof vests, batons and they should also have access to new means of communications in the coming weeks.) Nevertheless, our local police must not take the place of the national police, but rather they must work complementarily together.

What are you asking to the French government?

Jean-Marie Vilain: We simply ask that it finally tackles the security problems in « la Grande Borne » and in the Viry-Châtillon area, mainly related to trafficking of drugs, weapons, vehicles, spare parts and even of identity documents. As such, I’m expecting the state to keep its commitments on headcounts, on what police officers need, but also so they can receive orders and fully undertake their missions. Police officers must be able to act safely to end these kinds of trafficking. It’s the only price to pay so that the residents can finally live in peace.

Why isn’t there a police station in Viry-Châtillon ?

Jean-Marie Vilain: You should ask this question to the Interior Ministry! The police station of Juvisy-sur-Orge, the one we are under the control of, is responsible for the towns of Morsang-sur-Orge, Juvisy-sur-Orge, Grigny and Viry-Châtillon, the last two being two cities that have « priority neighborhoods » and one with the biggest train station in the greater Paris region, outside of the Parisian stations. We’ve been asking for several years to have a fully operational police station in Viry-Châtillon in order to bring all the security our inhabitants need to live in peace.

Can you explain what is « la Grande Borne » where the attacks took place ?

Jean-Marie Vilain: It’s a neihboorhood that has been “put onto” two towns (Viry-Châtillon for 10% and Grigny for 90%). It’s the evolution of the population that was at the origin of the problems but it’s also because we let a communautarism settle in, which suppressed de facto a «positive social diversity». When you encourage the concentration of extreme poverty, you can only breed grounds for the underground economy of those who take advantage of the weaknesses of the ones most in need.

If its architecture was « innovative » but unfortunately, it’s made in such a way that it’s particularly difficult for police officers to do their work safely.

Is La Grande Borne a « no-go zone »? Is it a taboo topic?

 Jean-Marie Vilain: It’s not a taboo and neither a no-go zone because the national police goes there and manages successfully to arrest people. However, it is thanks to their courage and determination that we have such results. Police officers need human and material means to be able to go work safely in these neighborhoods to eradicate trafficking and make them safe again.

How can we restore the town’s image in the context that we know today in France ?

Jean-Marie Vilain: Viry-Châtillon is much more than this murder attempt: rather, it is all these children who do sports and who might become the future Ladji Doucouré, a hometown boy. It’s the Renault F1 factory, which has been developing engines for many years that have been  Formula 1 drivers and builders world champions more than once. Viry-Châtillon, it’s the town of the world’s first-ever organised aerodrome. Viry-Châtillon is about its lakes that give it an exceptional quality of life. Viry-Châtillon it’s more than 200 sports, culture and charity organisations and their volunteers that liven up our town all year long. Viry-Châtillon is about these men and women who love living and who only aspire to raise their children or grandchildren in this beautiful environment.

Special thanks to the mayor Jean-Marie Vilain, to the deputy mayor for cultural affairs Aurélie Troubat for organising the interview and to Marine Strauss for conducting the interview.