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CRS in riot control gear, with the helmet ready
The Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) ( ) are the riot control forces and general reserve of the French National Police. The CRS were created on 8 December 1944 and the first units were organised by 31 January 1945. The CRS were reorganized in 1948. The task for which they are best known in popular culture is crowd and riot control and re-establishment of order. Their suppressive role and occasional abuse of force has led to criticisms among certain demonstrators.

The expression les CRS means the whole force. It would be understood in the feminine plural insofar as the noun compagnie is feminine, but is typically used in the masculine to refer to the troops, most of whom are male (thus, In French slang un CRS ( may mean "a CRS man".


CRS missions include:
  • Motorway police in urban areas
  • Rescue operations on France's beaches (some CRS officers are trained in beach safety)
  • Security of public buildings
  • Mountain Rescue

The CRS are grouped in units living in barracks. They generally operate away from their base town.

French mobile police forces

The two French anti-riot forces, the CRS and the Gendarmerie Mobile are often mistaken with each other as their missions are similar. Ways to distinguish them are:
  • The uniform of the CRS is blue (usually dark blue); the uniform of the gendarmes mobiles is black.
  • The CRS wear a big red CRS patch; the gendarmes have stylized grenade.
In January 2009, the French state implemented a rapprochement ("bringing together") of the police and the gendarmerie. While this policy falls short of a complete fusion or merger, at least for now, this is likely to lead to more sharing of missions and less distinction between CRS and Gendarmes Mobiles in future.

Company composition

There are currently 61 companies; most of these companies have four platoons each, and others have six platoons. The composition for 4-platoon companies is thus:
  • 1 Commander
  • 1 Captain
  • 2 Lieutenants
  • 1~4 Brigadier-Majors
  • 12~25 Brigadier-Chiefs
  • 100~120 Guards


  • 1 Central Directorate under a Director-general of the National Police in Paris ;
  • 7 Zonal Directorates in each of the military's defense zones;
  • 60 General Service Companies (for the maintenance of public order) ;
  • 1 VIP Escort compagny (CRS n° 1);
  • 9 Autoroute Companies (Highway Patrol);
  • 6 Zonal Motorcycle Units;
  • 1 Mountain Group (Pyrenees);
  • CRS Band (attached to CRS n° 1).

Critical nicknames

  • Famous slogans from the leftist students who clashed with the CRS during the protests and riots of May 1968 were "CRS = SSmarker" and "CRS = Assassin." They also joked that "CRS" was an acronym for "Cars Remplis de Singes" (= "buses full of monkeys").

Cultural references

The CRS are mentioned in an enormous number of French songs, short stories, political tracts, comic books, etc.


External links

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