Cop by Valentin Gendrot review – a searchlight in the Paris police

Gendrot’s account of his time undercover as a support officer in France reveals a force beset by racism, machismo and misogyny

When Valentin Gendrot applied for a job with the Paris police in 2017, he didn’t expect to get through the vetting process. A thorough background check would have revealed that Gendrot, then aged 29, was an investigative journalist who specialised in exposing dubious working practices: he had previously worked undercover at a call centre, a debt recovery agency and a car plant.

His application was, however, successful and he began a two-year stint as an adjoint de sécurité (ADS), a position roughly equivalent to a police community support officer in the UK. Things got off to an underwhelming start when, on completing the obligatory three months’ training, he was assigned to a dreary posting at a mental health facility, charged with transporting patients from one psychiatric unit to another. After 15 months in this role he earned a transfer to Paris’s notoriously restive 19th arrondissement, where he was finally able to experience front-line policing.

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