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COVID-19 – Students on the ground - Guillaume Prémel (X2019 Class)

Guillaume Prémel completed his Personal Development and Military Training internship within the Departmental Gendarmerie in Plourin-lès-Morlaix, Brittany, France.

I’m originally from Bohars, France, a city near Brest (in the Brittany region). After graduating from Lycée Naval (a military high school for the French Navy), I attended preparatory classes at Lycée Louis-le-Grand, and took courses in the PCSI (Physics, Chemistry and Engineering Science) and PC (Physics/Chemistry) specializations. From the very beginning, my goal was to be accepted to École Polytechnique and I finally achieved that goal after 3 years of preparatory classes.

I was an intern for the regional police force in Plourin-lès-Morlaix, France. Before the pandemic started, my main role was to work in full immersion within the company’s units and external services, also called patrols. In addition to this task, I was in charge of training volunteer deputy police officers to help prepare for the SOG (Sous-Officer de Gendarmerie) entrance exams. Finally, I developed an IT program to facilitate the company’s staff work, and in particular for the command group, the police equivalent to an administration department.

I went back to work on March 21st, following a 4-day interruption that allowed for internal reorganization within the force. I asked if I could stay on as an intern in order to support the military members of the unit as I could not see myself leaving my internship early, especially during such difficult times and knowing that several police officers had already been placed in preventive quarantine because either they or their family members were at risk profiles (due to asthma, cardiac issues, etc…). In addition,, the staff had been divided into different divisions: the workforce was divided in two, half working and the other half in quarantine. Therefore, there was a slight reduction in the number of troops present. Since the COVID-19 tasks didn’t require any particular jurisdiction, I was perfectly capable of taking part in the force and was able to stand in for a “real” police officer for the time being. Personally, it was also an opportunity to go a bit further in my commitment to serve the people, which is an important component for any internship within the police force. Even though I’ve now completed my internship, I remain available, of course, should my unit need my assistance during these trying times.

My tasks were relatively similar to those pre-COVID-19, except for the fact that I was now doing only external service to help fight against the pandemic. Specifically, my work consisted of verifying authorizations (for leaving one’s home), day and night, and also helping citizens to understand what they could – and could not – do during the quarantine period.