The link in the thread in GQ about high speed chases is to the sale on A and E’s website of a video of Investigative Reports. The story is largely about a group of New Orleans cops who agreed to guard a drug kingpin’s warehouse, eventually beefing up the squad of guards to thirty or so (since there were so many who wanted in, they opened a second drug warehouse), and in the process murdering a witness who saw too much. Unfortunately, it was an FBI sting (since IA in New Orleans was also ridiculously corrupt).
I think that “tough” is the wrong word to use, since it suggests that the cops are a bunch of badasses, and that might not be a bad thing. Rather, the problem is endemic corruption and lack of accountability. While I lived in Montreal, a shoplifter was shot in the back of the head while handcuffed and face down on the sidewalk; the officer was later exonerated in the “accidental” shooting. Later analysis ultimately blamed the lack of training given to police officers there, coupled with the a typically macho police force.
Also while I lived there: police were called to break up a disturbance by black people in one of the suburbs. When they arrived, they found a black neighbourhood meeting going on. The person in charge, a fifty year old black bureaucrat, came out to ask why the place was surrounded by police; the police then beat him senseless, putting him in the hospital.
Also while I was there: police chased down a fleeing cab. When they finally got the driver, they beat him so badly that he’s now in a permanent vegetative state (his last name was Barnabé ;).
Some more: a young squeegee punk was sitting in the window of a bar called Biftek on St. Laurent Street. His dog was on the immediate other side of the railing. Police pulled over, called for backup, and four officers approach the dog, while loudly asking after the dog’s owner. The punk said that the dog was his, and hopped over the railing. Police jumped back, pepper sprayed him, and beat him. When onlookers demanded that the police stop and give their badge numbers (which they’re required to do by law), the police removed their badges and said “you don’t need that.”
The police in Montreal have a very bad reputation, especially among non-whites. IMO, it’s justified. The problem doesn’t seem to be that it’s a french force, but that it’s a force of poorly trained, macho men with little government oversight to call them on their behavior. When interviewed by the press about their bad reputation, the Chief of the Montreal Police actually had the nerve to say “we’re no worse than any other police force; we just get worse press”.
In any discussion of bad police forces, LA’s will inevitably come up, throwing off your french culture theory. Besides, the police in New Orleans aren’t very french (or cajun) at all.
Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.