Gendarmerie (Belgium)  

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"21 oktober 1974 - Aan de Rijksuniversiteit Gent wordt een voorstelling van een toneelstuk van auteur en journalist Bert Verhoye over Cyriel Verschaeve verhinderd door de extreemrechtse groeperingen KVHV, VMO en Were Di. De rijkswacht ontzet het gebouw. De rellen leiden tot de oprichting van het Anti-Fascistisch Front."

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The Gendarmerie (French) or Rijkswacht (Dutch) was the former paramilitary police force of Belgium. It became a civilian police organisation in 1992, a status retained until January 1, 2001, when it was, together with the other existing police forces in Belgium, abolished and replaced by the Federal Police and the Local Police.

During the 1980s, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie suffered serious problems. Much of its equipment was outdated, it was significantly understrength, and there were serious financial issues. It was also the period of fighting Communist cells (CCC), serious and deadly criminal activities by gangs (like the Nijvel gang, a case that was never solved) and hooliganism (Heysel Stadium disaster). Several parliamentary commissions blamed the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie for poor investigations and law enforcement work in these cases. The Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was threatened with disbandment, and drastic measures were taken to reorganise several units and to improve public relations.

On 1 January 1992, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie lost its formal military status, resulting in major changes in policies, procedures, and staff regulation. Demilitarisation allowed the force to concentrate all its resources on civilian police work. Its military functions, as well as the supervision of the Ministry of Defence, were removed.

This restructuring occurred after the 'black' 1980s of the Nijvel gang, Heysel Stadium disaster, Cellules Communistes Combattantes (CCC), and other criminal and terrorist activity, against which the Gendarmerie was deemed ineffective.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gendarmerie (Belgium)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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