This week Yabla features an interview with a poliziotto (policeman). Nicola gives us some insight into what it really means to be a policeman.
Sono un agente di Polizia da ventitré anni.
I've been a police officer for twenty-three years.
Caption 2, Nicola Agliastro - PoliziottoPlay Caption
But what brand of policeman is he? In Italy there are different categories of police, with different roles, rules, and uniforms.
Judging from the sign at the Commissariato (police headquarters) at the beginning of the video, Nicola appears to be part of the Polizia di Stato (state [national] police), which is the main, national police force. They are responsible for patrolling the autostrade (highways), ferrovie (railways), aeroporti (airports), and la dogana (customs). Their vehicles are blue and white (see thumbnail of video).
If you subscribe to Yabla, you’re quite familiar by now with La Polizia di Stato, since the popular series Commissario Manara takes place in that environment (in fact, there's a new segment this week!).
Luca and Lara are usually in borghese (plainclothes), and wear their uniforms only on special occasions. At first glance Luca Manara doesn't quite look the part, and Ginevra, the medico legale (coroner), who doesn't look the part any more so, comments:
Tu devi essere il nuovo commissario, però non ne hai l'aspetto.
You must be the new Commissioner, but you don't look it.
Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfettoPlay Caption
La polizia municipale (local police force) on the other hand, works at a local level and is responsible primarily for traffic control, but also for enforcing national, regional, and local laws regarding commerce, legal residence, pets, and other administrative duties. The officers of the municipal police aren’t automatically authorized to carry weapons, since public safety is generally relegated to the Polizia di Stato. The municipal forces may be called polizia comunale (community police), polizia urbana (town police), or polizia locale (local police). They’re commonly called vigili urbani (town guards), but the correct nomenclature is agenti di polizia locale. Their vehicles depend on local tastes and traditions, and differ from town to town, and from region to region.
If you’re in Italy and you lose your wallet, or something gets stolen, you go to the Carabinieri to report the theft or the loss. They file a report, and make it official. When you’re driving, the Carabinieri may have you pull over for a routine checking of license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you have reason to believe there is a crime being committed, call the Carabinieri.
The police emergency number is 113, equivalent to 911 in the United States.
Here’s hoping you never need it!
Another important police force is la Guardia di Finanza (financial guard). The Guardia di Finanza deals primarily with financial crime and smuggling, and is the primary agency for suppressing illicit drug trade. They work on land, sea, and in the air. These are the agents who might ask you to produce a scontrino (receipt) upon exiting a shop, restaurant, or bar. The customer, since 2003, no longer incurs a fine, but it’s still good practice to hang on to your receipt until well away from the place of business.
These agents wear grayish green uniforms with the insignia of a yellow flame on the shoulder. Because of this, they are sometimes called le fiamme gialle (the yellow flames).
Whichever kind of policemen you see around, be they carabinieri, vigili, agenti di polizia locale, poliziotti, or fiamme gialle, remember they're there primarily to help, not to give you trouble.