NEWS » 83% of Rome's municipal police reported sick on NYE

83% of Rome's municipal police reported sick on NYE

Scandal after scandal Italians saw off 2014. Also the new year came with an unpleasant surprise: half a million people gathered in Rome to celebrate the new year but there was a shortage of municipal police officers, as 83 percent of them declared to be sick. 600,000 people gathered around the Colosseum and some of them let off powerful illegal fireworks undisturbed by the security forces, due to the fact that there were too few of them.

The municipal police officers gave a variety of reasons to justify their absence: some said they were donating blood and some had temporary disabilities, almost 600 people declared to be sick while the average number of absentees is of a hundred for that time of the year. The trade union criticized this data explaining that due to a virus in the database also the pensioners were called into service.  

The situation was harshly criticized and Prime minister Matteo Renzi declared that the rules of employment in the public sector will be changed in 2015.   

Now the skiving officers could face disciplinary action because their absenteeism could have endangered the public's safety, on what is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year. The police officers risk 11 days of suspension or being sacked.

The municipal police said that their absence was part of a broader dispute over pay conditions and lack of personnel. The head of the police union, Stefano Giannini commented that there should be 9,400 municipal police officers but there are only 5,900. The actual number is not sufficient, even in normal conditions, to provide a 24-hour service, seven days a week. 

Beppe Grillo, leader of the Five Stars movement said that the “vigili”
(municipal police) scandal was only a way to divert attention from the Mafia capital scandal and criminalize part of the state workers to introduce restrictive measures.

The municipal police unions now risk sanctions from 2.500 to 100 thousand Euros. In particular trade unions Cgil and Ospol were organizing a 6 hour assembly between 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock on the 31st December but they didn’t get the authorization.

While the investigations on absentee agents continue 44 municipal police officers were found without justification during the first enquiry.

Giulia Lombardo

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