MARIGOT–The French Quarter Gendarmerie officially reopened on Monday for the first time since damage to the station from Hurricane Irma was repaired.
Capitaine Thierry Verres, Deputy to Lieutenant Colonel Sebastien Manzoni, gave the assembled media a tour of the offices and reception. The informal visit was essentially for the public to know the station is open again. The main building was completely flooded and damaged and the Gendarme family quarters in the adjacent buildings were also heavily damaged. The latter accommodations are the subject of a separate renovation plan.
“Over the past three months we have had Gendarmes from the logistics section engaged in the repairs to the offices,” explained Capitaine Verres. “We also had to have a new IT [Information Technology – Ed.] set-up, new computers and communications system. That was a key point for opening, to be able to communicate. Secondly it was important to be able to receive the public, and thirdly we needed to have Gendarmes to work in this station.”
It was disclosed that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma a national appeal had gone out in France for Gendarmes to volunteer to assist in St. Martin. Some 4,000 Gendarmes responded but just 38 were picked to be deployed.
Also present on Monday was head of the Gendarme Reservists in St. Martin, Capitaine Franck Gouwy. Some 73 Reservists are on a tour of duty here for three months and leave the island on December 29. From 900 Reservists who volunteered, 73 were selected to go to St. Martin.
“The media communicated a lot in France about Irma, and it was dramatic to see pictures of the destruction in St. Martin. So I can understand why a lot of Gendarmes would want to volunteer,” said Capitaine Gouwy.
“But Reservists are different. We come from all over France. One third are former police officers or Gendarmes and two thirds come from civilian society. What we do is more like community policing. It’s a different approach. Because most of us are coming from the civilian world our communication is more efficient and open with the public. It’s less of a military approach and more civilian.”
The French Quarter Gendarmerie is open from 8:00am to 12:00pm and 2:00pm to 6:00pm. Two Gendarmes are on regular duty to receive the public, file complaints and take statements.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71773-french-quarter-gendarmerie-reopens-after-irma-damage