by MAC WILLIAM BISHOP
Part Four in a Series
PARIS — The police vehicles approached slowly, and the officers accompanying them were visibly tense.
The past three days had been a nightmare for French law enforcement. Two officers murdered on the street in cold blood. Nine staff from the provocative magazine Charlie Hebdo slaughtered in their offices, along with a visitor from out of town. Four people slain at a kosher supermarket.
Two sieges ending in a hail of bulletswith brothers who had sworn allegiance to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and their ISIS-inspired accomplice being killed following a coordinated set of attacks.
A video taken by a passerby showed the street packed tight with civilians, and the officers began clearing a path for the approaching vehicles. A few small cheers rang out. But as the police got closer, the entire crowd erupted in applause and shouts of encouragement.
The officers were clearly taken aback, exchanging glances as if unsure how to respond.
But the crowd's encouragement and enthusiasm were contagious, and many of the officers, replete in full riot gear, began to smile and thank their supporters.
"PEOPLE NEED HEROES IN A TIME OF WAR"
With its long history of anti-establishmentarianism and a general lack of regard for authority figures, France has never really embraced police officers in the way that America often mythologizes the men and women of the thin blue line.
Cops here are widely known as "les flics" — the plural of "flic," a popular slang term for police of uncertain origin.
But on Jan. 12, 2015, it was "les flics" who had responded to the call, and come to the rescue.
The citizens of France loved them for it.