Twenty years of police unions discourse about violence: the defense of working conditions and the ‘condition policière’
In the international context of a health crisis, the issue of police violence has been brought to the forefront of the media, as has the political agenda with varying degrees of persistence. In Belgium, as a result of both mediatized incidents and because of such a context, a familiar debate, limited since the 1990s to denunciations of violence against the police, has been reopened about both types of violence. Police unions are notably involved in this debate, whose discourse may be questionable in that it tends to highlight, in addition to a deterioration in relations between the police and certain populations, mainly the violence suffered by police officers and the ‘police bashing’ that discredits the institution as a whole. By means of an analysis of press releases issued to the press or published on the official websites of the unions, but also of press articles, we examine the positions taken by the unions during and since the police reform. The aim is to understand the performative forces behind them, by placing them in the institutional and societal context in which these professional coalitions position themselves.