Law enforcement in Italy
Law enforcement in Italy is provided by five separate national
*"' (military police)
*"' (forestry police)
*"' (financial and customs police, also organized as a military force)
*"' (state police)
*"' (penitentiary police)
and three sub-national police forces:
In some areas
Polizia Provincialeand Polizia Municipaleare grouped into Polizia Locale.
Police officers are not permitted to enter the
Italian Parliamentunless out of session and the speaker has given his or her consent.
Arma dei Carabinieri
The "Carabinieri" is the common name for the "Arma dei Carabinieri", a "
Gendarmerie"-like military corps with police duties. They also serve as the Italian military police.
The "Carabinieri" recently became a separate armed force (alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force), thus ending their long standing tradition as the First Corps ("Arma") of the Italian Army ("Esercito"). They are referred to as the "Arma" or "La Benemerita" (The Meritorious Corps), and are unrivalled in popular affection and national pride, although they are often subjects of jokes about their intelligence, because requirements to be a "Carabiniere" used to be very low (elementary-school level). Though the requirements are now higher, the stereotype persists.
In recent years "Carabinieri" units have been dispatched all over the world in peacekeeping missions, including
Kosovo, Afghanistanand Iraq. In 2004, twelve "Carabinieri" were killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq. This was Italy's largest military loss in a single action since World War II.
Previously, only men were allowed to become part of the "Arma" (or any military force, for that matter), but recent military reforms allow women to serve in the Italian military, including Carabinieri.
Guardia di Finanza
The "Guardia di Finanza" is a special Italian police force at the service of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. The Guardia di Finanza is a Military Corps and is an integral part of the Italian Armed Forces as well as of the law enforcement agencies. Its duties primarily involve investigating money-related crimes, such as tax evasion, financial crimes, customs and border checks, money laundering, smuggling, international drugs trafficking, Terrorist Financing, illegal immigration, credit cards frauds, anti-mafia operations and money counterfeiting. Their functions overlap somewhat with some of the duties of the following American agencies: the IRS, the FBI, DEA, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Customs. The Guardia di Finanza has a naval fleet for the overseeing of territorial waters, and an air force.
Polizia di Stato
The "Polizia di Stato" (State Police) is the National Police of Italy. Along with common patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it is responsible for patrolling the Autostrada (Italy's Express Highway network), and overseeing the security of railways, bridges and waterways.
It is a civilian police force, while the "Carabinieri" are military. While its internal organization and mindset is somewhat military, its personnel is composed totally of civilians. Its headquarters are located in Rome, and there are Regional and Provincial divisions scattered throughout Italian territory.
In recent years, a new program called "Polizia di Quartiere" was implemented which aimed at increasing police presence and deterring crime. Pairs of "poliziotti" (policemen) or "carabinieri" patrol specific areas of major cities on foot. Its critics contend that these efforts are ineffective, as the areas with the greatest concentration of crime are being neglected.
The "Polizia Penitenziaria" (Prison Guards, literally "Penitentiary Police") operate the Italian prison system and handle the transportation of inmates.
Corpo Forestale dello Stato
Park Rangers in the US, the "Corpo Forestale dello Stato" (National Forestry Department) controls Italian national parks and forests. Their duties also include fighting poachers, safeguarding protected animal species and preventing forest fires.
Other police forces
"Polizia Provinciale" operate in all of the 109 provinces of Italy. In addition, "Polizia Regionale" operate in five of the autonomous regions. Their main duties are to enforce regional and national hunting and fishing laws but have also expanded into
wildlife managementand environmental protection. The forces' vehicles are white with a green stripe along the side.
In addition, each commune has its own "Polizia Municipale" (
municipal police) who deal with petty crime, anti-social behaviour and so on. In some regions of Italy these forces can also be called "Polizia Urbana" or "Vigili Urbani".
In some regions "Polizia Provinciale" and "Polizia Municipale" are grouped into the "Polizia Locale" name, although they keep their own internal organisation.
Furthermore, the "
Guardia Costiera" (Coast Guard) provides law enforcement on the sea and is part of the Italian Navy.
The Organizzazione di Vigilanza Repressione dell'Antifascismo Organization for Vigilance in Repression of Anti-Fascism was also a historical secret police organization in Italy during fascism.
Some forces have their own special corps, with more specific duties. The most common are listed below, among with a brief description and with their American counterpart, where possible.
Arma dei Carabinieri
Corazzieri: Honor guard located in the Quirinalepalace to protect the President. They have almost no other everyday duties, although they may be seen patrolling occasionally.
Gruppo di Intervento Speciale("Special Intervention Group"): Special operations team employed in counter-terrorismand other high risk missions. Their training is similar to that of British SAS and the German GSG 9.
Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Artistico("Artistic Patrimony Protection Group"): Their duty is to safeguard the artistic patrimony of Italy and retrieve stolen art works.
Nucleo Anti Sofisticazioni("Sanitary Enforcement Group"): Their duty is to enforce sanitary laws.
Reparti Investigazioni Scientifiche("Scientific Investigative Division"). Forensic police, same as the US Crime Scene Investigation.
Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale: Often involved with organized crimeinvestigations and other undercover operations. A ROS operative, usually known only by his callsign (Captain "Ultimo") commanded the team that arrested the notorious Mafiaboss Salvatore "Totò" Riina.
Guardia di Finanza
Gruppo di Investigazione Criminalità Organizzata" Organized Crime Investigation Group
Gruppo Operativo Antidroga" Counter-Narcotics Group
Gruppo Anticrimine Tecnologico" Counter-Cybercrime Group
Comando Operativo Aeronavale" Air-Naval Operational Command
AntiTerrorismo Pronto Impiego" Antiterrorism and Rapid Response Service.
Polizia di Stato
Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza" (Central Security Operations Group): It can be compared with the American SWAT.
*"Polizia Postale" (Postal Police): Their nearest American counterpart is the
U.S. Postal Inspection Servicealthough they also fight cybercrime.
Polizia Stradale" (Highway Police): Its American counterpart is the Highway Patrol.
Polizia Ferroviaria" The Railroad policethat protects trains and train stations.
Two or more agencies
*"Reparto Cinofili" (Police Dog Division) is the Italian for K9. The "Polizia", "Carabinieri", "Guardia di Finanza", "Corpo Forestale dello Stato" and "Polizia Penitenziaria" all have their own canine units.
Until recently, all Italian police forces were equipped with Italian-made police cars. The most famous of them, the
Alfa Romeo Giulia, gave the nicknames of the cars still commonly used today. A patrol car belonging to "Polizia" is nicknamed "Pantera" (Panther), one used by the "Carabinieri" is nicknamed "Gazzella" (Gazelle) and every unmarked car is called a "Civetta" (Owl).
Every force has also helicopters, trucks and campers (used as mobile offices usually in undercover missions). In
Venice, which is built across several islands linked by bridges and surrounded by water, public security and fire brigades work with boats. In 2004, Lamborghinidonated two Lamborghini Gallardopolice cars - fully equipped with lights and sirens and capable of travelling at almost 310 km/h - to the state police on the occasion of their 152nd anniversary. This car is used for fast delivery of plasma and organs for transplantation.
*Arma dei Carabinieri patrol vehicles are very dark blue (almost black) with a red stripe along the side. Their normal civilian law enforcement vehicles have registration plates beginning with "CC" whereas vehicles for military police duties have military plates beginning with "EI".
*Guardia di Finanza vehicles are dove grey or dark blue with a thin gold stripe along each side and the words "Guardia di Finanza" in gold underneath. The vehicle plates begin with the letters “GdiF” in red.
*Polizia di Stato vehicles are light blue with a white stripe along the side and the word "Polizia" in large letters underneath. The license plates also start with the word "Polizia" in red usually followed by a letter and four numbers.
*Polizia Penitenziaria vehicles are dark blue with a light blue stripe along the side and "Polizia Penitenziaria" in white letters under the stripe.
*Corpo Forestale dello Stato vehicles are green with a white stripe and the words "Corpo Forestale dello Stato" in white along the side. The vehicle plates begin with the letters “CF” in red.
Italian Africa Police
*en icon [http://www.poliziadistato.it/pds/lingua/english/index.htm Polizia di Stato]
*en icon [http://www.carabinieri.it/Internet/Multilingua/EN/default.htm Arma dei Carabinieri]
*en icon [http://www.gdf.it/gdif_in_english/index.html Guardia di Finanza]
*it icon [http://www.corpoforestale.it Corpo Forestale dello Stato]
*it icon [http://www.polizia-penitenziaria.it Polizia Penitenziaria]
*it icon [http://members.xoom.alice.it/poliziaita/index2.htm LA POLIZIA ITALIANA ]
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