Sunday, April 16, 2023

Gendarmerie / Rijkswacht

The Gendarmerie (French) or Rijkswacht (Dutch) was the former paramilitary police force of Belgium. It became a civilian police organisation in 1992, a status it retained until 1 January 2001, when it was, together with the other existing police forces in Belgium, abolished and replaced by the Federal Police and the Local Police.

The word gendarme comes from Old French gens d'armes, meaning men-at-arms, whereas the Dutch name, rijkswacht, means guard of the realm.

On 1 January 1992, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie lost its formal military status, resulting in major changes in policies, procedures, and staff regulation. Demilitarisation allowed the force to concentrate all its resources on civilian police work. Its military functions, as well as the supervision of the Ministry of Defence, were removed.

This restructuring occurred after the 'black' 1980s of the Brabant killers, Heysel Stadium disaster, Cellules Communistes Combattantes (CCC), and other criminal and terrorist activity, against which the Gendarmerie was deemed ineffective.

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