Friday, April 21, 2017

Paris Shooting Thoughts

My wife and I were having dinner in the 5th Arrondisment when we heard about the shooting on the Champs. We started getting texts from our family asking if we were OK. That's funny because they never ask us how we are when there is a shooting in New Orleans, which is a daily occurrence. Here are some observations.

The police here patrol in groups of three. They always used to do that but now they all wear vests and one of them carries an assault rifle. Trying to take them on in a gun fight would be suicidal. The gunman would have caused more terror had he just started shooting randomly at the cars on the Champs.

Key sites such as transportation hubs and tourist areas are patrolled by the army. They are usually in a single fire team of 4 guys, all with assault rifles.

We were in Paris shortly after the mass shooting at Bataclan. The security then was high but we have noticed some changes as a result of this shooting. The police being up-armed is one. (I suspect that they had to make an emergency purchase of all those assault rifles) Another is that there were checks at several pedestrian choke points today. We were stopped at the exit of the Metro in what looked like a routine ticket check. My wife noticed a couple of policemen off to the side who were obviously looking for somebody. (This was at Cite which exits out at the Palace of Justice and the police headquarters) Also, when we walked through the doors into the large underground forum at Les Halles, there were security guys checking backpacks and wanding people down.

The base of the Eiffel Tower is now fenced off. If you want to enter the area under the tower you have to go through security. It is really an ugly scar that takes the fun out of a visit there.

The French presidential election on Sunday should be interesting.