"Le Brigadier" (the police sergeant) is a French rapper who keeps his identity well hidden. And with good reason - he claims to work as a policeman in the suburbs of Paris. Rapping about police blunders hasn't gone down well with the rest of the force though, leading to an internal enquiry into his identification.
He says to have been patrolling Department 93, a Parisian suburb, for 10 years. Sick of police brutality, Le Brigadier chose to speak out against the service through his own experiences. His first few songs caused such controversy that they reached the interior ministry. The reaction there was not warm, and an enquiry into unmasking the traitor was soon launched. Today, the man in question says the team is closing in on him.
"Some of my colleagues have been beaten up for speaking against police blunders"
Le Brigadier - the rapping policeman in question.
Some people think I'm a rebel who's getting into music to make an escape from the police. But I just want to talk about my experiences of working in the force. It needs to be known that the image people have of the police is quite far from reality. It is true that there are racists, and mistakes are made, but many of us take their work seriously.
I spoke negatively in my first few songs but the album coming out next year is quite positive on the whole. In September a song I made with policemen, former public sector workers and community support officers is out too.
For me, the police confidentiality rule is immoral. The other day, we were called to an area to help someone with mental problems who was panicking. We had to use a straightjacket to restrain her and some bystanders came out saying we were too violent. We can't continue working in silence, there's too much confusion. We need to be telling the truth.
Sarkozy messed things up when he said things like needing to clean the suburbs with an industrial power hose [to get rid of] "scum". It did nothing but worsen what were already poor relations with the police. His strategy is quite clear - he's got an ex-minister of defence in the post of interior minister!
Psychologically, it's a very hard job to do. A lot of my colleagues have been packed off to "Courbat Castle" [a mental health centre for the police]. Keeping schtum is a heavy burden to bear, but it's the rules, and if broken you face harsh consequences. Some of my colleagues have been beaten up for speaking against police blunders. Right now, I feel under pressure, I can feel the enquiry team is closing in on me.
When I started out rapping, I didn't think it would come to this. My team told me about email threats I was getting. I don't know if I regret it now, I don't like to think about it. Music for me is not a career plan. My album is a diary, a way of turning a page and looking for a new direction."
"What he’s done goes against police working ethics"
Sébastien Bailly is a police unionist for "Alliance" in the suburbs of Paris.If Le Brigadier is really a policeman, which remains to be proven, then he's risking disciplinary action. In his case it seems certain that he'd either a face temporary suspension of between 15 days and two years or he'd actually be dismissed. If he's not a police officer, then there's a chance that the union will take action against him, but only if he mentions names of certain officers in the lyrics. Then they'd be able to cite defamation or invasion of privacy.
On a police level, it will depend on what his colleagues want to do. Of course there won't be any physical confrontation - this isn't worth fighting over!
Internal problems are handled by the unions. It doesn't help anyone to sing about them. He should have come to us, but he preferred to use troubles in the police to get himself famous. What he's done goes against police working ethics. Remaining silent is essential for the progress of investigations and to keep a code of conduct.
As for the image the police have in France, a survey taken out in a northern suburb of Paris showed that 80% of people were happy with the police's work. Only a few complained and that was because of too much traffic."
Le Brigadier's next album - "Etat d'urgence" (State of Emergency)