“We are often faced with death”: what does the life of an elite police officer look like?

The RAID is the last bastion against what humanity counts as black. In France, it is the elite unit that responds as soon as the police have a problem. “We intervene in specific situations, with particularly dangerous individuals. We are often confronted with death, human distress, injustice, violence, madness… And if we are not there, it is the population that toasts”, sums up Marc Verillotte, ex -RAID agent.

“After us, there is no longer anyone to pass the ball to: this forces us to be heterogeneous and above all to be prepared for everything”, continues the man who is also a former judo champion. Attacks, madmen, go fast, hostage taking, judicial arrests, security missions… “No intervention is alike. Even if we try to deal with the unpredictable, we know that we will always have surprises. The RAID agents are called upon to be continuously operational, on all terrains and in all countries. As many missions as Marc Verillotte recounts in his book “At the heart of RAID”. For 20 years, the elite policeman has multiplied operations under high tension, the success of which is often played out in detail, with urgent decisions.

The King of Fragments

Three years after joining the RAID section (Research, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence) of the French police, the agents choose between two options of additional specialties: burglary or rifle shooting. “I chose the effrac’, to be as close as possible to the assault column. You break down the door and then you go in anyway to reinforce the assault column”. And to break down any other obstacles the agents might encounter along the way. Windows, doors, grilles, shop windows, walls, floors, ceilings… The effrac’ cell, which “Marco” led from 2012 to 2018, must master all possible opening techniques, using explosive or nope. This requires a state of mind that qualifies our interlocutor well: perpetual innovation and constant adaptation.

“At RAID, we cannot do our job at 70%. Because opposite, we have thugs who are 100%: motivated, sometimes even drugged, and who are not afraid of death. If the brain is 100% focused during the mission, you also have to learn to compartmentalize. “Not easy, but it can be learned. “Essential, especially when you return home, to find your wife and two children, in front of a cartoon.

Brothers in arms

When you read and meet Marc Verillotte, one thing transcends his story: the sense of values. In particular, that of the collective. “In the middle of the action, if someone squeezes your shoulder, it’s to say ‘I’m here, with you. I’m ready’. He’s a brother in arms, we know it, and that’s enough to reassure us and rush us towards danger ”, tells us the former cop, medal of the Legion of Honor hanging on his black jacket. “But this collective spirit is not self-evident. You have to work on it. If our society is deteriorating today, it is because the collective spirit is deteriorating. When a crisis occurs, where we need to cooperate, today it’s every man for himself. In RAID, there is no other than collective success. As in a society: it will not be able to function if there is no collective spirit. She will eventually collapse. »

In his work, which he wanted to be “true” above all, Marc Verillotte avoids nothing. Neither joys and successes, nor angers and disappointments.

Today, Marco hung up his equipment (40 kg in intervention, 30 more with his emergency break-in equipment!). He left the profession “in peace” and is working on an essential mission: transmission.

This testimony book, the policeman built it thanks to his logbook: no less than 7,000 pages written in 20 years of service! “I wanted to tell the truth of the assault column, behind the scenes of the job, and then the springs that push an operator to act. I didn’t do it out of political interest and ego. I wrote it for my children, and for my comrades. I wanted to re-establish the truth about my profession, a truth often smeared by those who dream of political careers. »

At the heart of RAID, by Marc Verillotte and Karim Ben Ismaïl, Les Arènes editions, 340 pages, €22.


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