“Spouses of cops”, a life of fear

Caroline leads the life of a secret agent’s wife. Her husband takes different paths every day to get home from work, he turns around on every street corner to check that he is not being followed, does not really talk about his activity. At home, she has ” what’s needed ” to defend. A gun replica that shoots lead balls. And above all a Malinois shepherd always alert. Enough to evacuate the anxieties that sometimes arise in the evening in this pavilion in the Parisian suburbs.

Caroline’s husband is not a secret agent. He has been a municipal policeman since he left the gendarmerie ten years ago. At 35, she has felt a wind of mistrust for several years. “My husband has already received several threats against his family, saying that they would kill his wife and children. So, the couple takes precautions, avoids being seen in town together, especially since the police station is in the neighboring town. Before, she didn’t think about it as much, but the murder of policeman Éric Masson on May 5 in Avignon stunned her: “He was, within a year, my husband’s age. Obviously, I think about it. “

At the hospital where she works as a caregiver, she pays attention to what she says: “With some colleagues, you have to take it easy to announce my husband’s job She asks with a certain detachment. She reports a scene that occurred a few days earlier: “A colleague from another department said: I got stopped by the cops again, they only have that to do with their controls. Those who marry them, I don’t know how they manage to look at each other in the mirror.”” Caroline preferred not to retort. As usual.

These scenes, the spouses of police officers are used to. The job of their other half rarely leaves people indifferent. “We cannot know what people are thinking in the face, so we have to test the waters before speaking », Specifies a policeman’s wife.

The spouses do not wear the uniform, but it is just like. “I married the police more than my companion “, Smiles Perrine Sallé, spokesperson for the Angry Women of Law Enforcement Association (FFOC), very active on social networks. “I know that I will pass after a demonstration or colleagues who have a blast. I accepted it. In the series SWAT, she continues, a policewoman says: It’s complicated to be a police officer, but it’s even more complicated to be a cop’s wife. It’s true, it’s a challenge but what are we proud of! “

It is not Claire (1), 30, who will say the opposite. At 3:30 a.m. a few days ago, her husband’s phone rings. A refusal to comply, driving under narcotics. He has to go. “He leaves, and I go over what I could hear on TV, the tragedies that took place. At 7:15 a.m., I wake up. He’s not in bed. Did he come in in one piece? He had come back well, but inevitably, we are making films in the current context. “

The shifted rhythms, night work, stress, it is also the lot of the spouses. Aude (1) knows, she is even “Born in there”. Cop granddaughter, cop daughter, cop sister… then cop wife. “I try to be positive, but on Facebook groups I see a lot of calls for help from worried women. “

She works in the management of the trauma of law enforcement agencies through hypnosis. “There is no support to overcome the tragedies they encounter every day, she laments, and going to see the shrink is to be considered fragile. In the home, there are two attitudes, according to her: “The cop who does not want to contaminate the family sphere with the sordid daily life, and the one who talks about it with his spouse – but, in this case, you have to be strong enough to listen to him. “

At Caroline, silence reigns: “The psychological exhaustion is there, I would like my husband to tell me about it, but he often tells me that he doesn’t want to bother me with it. We hope that no one will pay for the straw that will break the camel’s back, a burr, or whatever. ” She pauses. “Me, I’m too afraid of suicide, but my husband is well aware, he saw colleagues who passed the weapon on the left.

To the anxiety have been added, since the yellow vests, police violence, accusations of racism … The spouses have also seen the outlook of part of society on the police change. “As in any profession, there are black sheep, unacceptable drifts, Claire replies. They must be punished by the institution. But there is a media and social network effect that lets the population mix things up. “

“Hatred against the police is increasingly targeting off-duty police officers and their families”, adds Perrine Sallé, who has initiated three legal proceedings for death threats after being harassed on social networks. The controversy over article 24 of the law on comprehensive security – now article 52 – creating an offense of provocation to identify police officers also applies to the civil servant’s spouse.

In this tense context, many adopt daily precautions so as not to be identified. “We don’t hang polo shirts with the police logo on the balcony but in the bathroom, explains Perrine Sallé, for example, who lives in the suburbs. We avoid receiving mail from the administration at home, because it is marked “Ministry of the Interior” on it. “ In the gendarmerie, families live in brigades. “We know where to find us, it’s easy to spot vehicles, explains Claire. And those arrested can sometimes find themselves in front of the children playing in the subdivision. There have already been threats. “

So the youngest people are often associated with this strategy. After the Magnanville attack in 2016, against a couple of police officers at their home, “We realized that we could no longer remain silent”, remembers Aude. Since then, as a necessary step, there is the briefing to the children ” from the youngest age “. “We explained to our son that it was necessary to say that his father is a civil servant or a security guard, whereas he is hyperfied about it”, she laments. Caroline thought she was telling her child that her husband is a gardener, “While he does not have a green thumb at all”. But when the 2.5-year-old saw his father’s work jacket, slipped under the coat, he exclaimed: “Police blue! “


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