Teaching Criminology to Police Officers: Bologna's Local Police Case

Teaching Criminology to Police Officers: Bologna's Local Police Case

Andrea Piselli
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-872-7.ch014
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This article introduces the main division within the police corps in Italy and explains some historical reasons and their different task. Then it is exposed the recent change of the local police from political evolution of the State and new tasks established by law. This fast translation entailed a new training of policemen and in few years many changes occurred. While analyzing what happened in these years and which choices were made, it is argued that local police well adapted to new role with flexible cultural instruments. Main school were organized to satisfy the need of standard training, but corps independence allowed to realize single efficient projects particularly needed. Conclusion is the appreciation of free training method for police subjects.
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It is not easy to talk about Italy’s Police because for some historical reasons there is in Italy a large number of different Police corps. Before beginning the study of a special case we must resume some notes about this situation. It is an ancient tradition coming from the early Roman Empire that led to this multiplicity. We may remember the traditional four police corps instituted in the age of the empire and recognize in them some characteristics that still survive. The Praetoriani were a kind of military police, directly depending from the emperor and employed for the defence of his person and in the state security; Vigiles were a police Corp composed by civilians with a military organization, with tasks of fire brigade and nightly patrol of the town; Cohors urbana was a military organized Corp made of civilians, of town police depending from city managers and employed to control the traffic in the streets and the markets; Lictores were civilians police officers representing and serving magistrates while administering justice. It is not difficult to recognize in these ancient corps some of the characteristics still surviving in modern police institutions: (1) the military vs civil nature; (2) the speciality of tasks; (3) the dependence from central vs local political power; (4) the relation with justice institutions. Reflection concerning Police is always focused in the solutions given to these points. We could say that political history of a country might be written according to the history of its police institutions. According to this premise, we may see along political history of Italy many police corps which replicate the same characters of the ones during the early roman empire. It is a series of military, civil, national, local, specialized corps which reflect the political institutions of the time: absolute monarchy, revolutions, commune, civil war etc.

Nowadays it seems that police corps variety and multiplicity reflect political complexity (or confusion?) so we have:

  • 1.

    five national police corps: National Police (Polizia di Stato)1, Carabinieri2, Economic Police (Guardia di Finanza)3, Penitentiary Police (Polizia Penitenziaria)4, National Forestry Commission (Corpo Forestale dello Stato)5;

  • 2.

    about a hundred of country corps of Provincial Police (Polizia Provinciale)6;

  • 3.

    about a thousand of town corps of Municipal Police (Polizia Municipale)7.

In some places in Italy the corps of Provincial Police have been fused together with those of Municipal Police of their country’s towns realizing new corps of Local Police: this kind of experience is actually developed just in Lombardy Region.

The police service is so divided in five national agencies, depending from five different ministers, and specifically Carabinieri from Defense, National Police from Home Office, Economic Police from Treasury, Penitentiary Police from Justice and National Forestry Commission from Agriculture; beside there are many local agencies depending from city mayors or country governors. This kind of hierarchical relation with different political powers, both the central government and the local administration, is typical of Italy and answers to one of the questions we pointed before: answer to question (3) is that any political power in Italy owns its police Corp! About other questions we note that nowadays two of the national agencies, Carabinieri and Economic Police are military corps, while all the others are civilians, although under special rules. There has been a translation to civil police in Italy during the 80’s, but we must remember that before 1981 all national police corps were military. This means that answering to question (1) in Italy there is both military and civil police. The particularity of task, which is question (2) is, as we may guess, a middle solution: all police corps are specialized in some disciplines, but all police corps have the power/right to pursuit any kind of crime. For example Carabinieri is the only Military Police agency, but they are deputed to pursuit all crimes, and actually specialized also in environmental crime, art, health etc., as well as Economic Police, that is the agency deputed to pursuit smuggling, but nowadays is also specialized in drugs, recycling, counterfeit and so on. Last question we pointed before, (4), concerning the relation with justice institution, is particularly problematic. All police corps depend from either political power and magistrates: this double nature of police is explained with the phrase “the double hat”. In fact, according to constitutional principles, it is stated for magistrates only the power and duty to pursuit all crimes, and the duty for police to refer magistrates about all crimes. The problem of double hat is that one power (the political one) orders to police what to do, but another power (the justice one) is called to judge the action, and it is a national tradition that these two different powers do not agree very often! The balance of double dependence of police corps from both policy and justice is another character which distinguishes modern police.

There is a birthday of new local police: 1986, March 7 when law n° 65 at article n° 1 stated that “municipality exercises local police actions. For this duty it may create a service of Municipal Police”. This new service in a few years will substitute the former Vigili Urbani, all around the nation8. A new law established also a formal equality of power between Municipal Police and other police corps, although only in the area of the municipality which the Corp belongs to (article n° 5 Law n° 65/1986). There has been then a translation to this new task of local police, where single steps should be examined. New court law Presidential Decree (D.P.R.) 1988 September 22, n° 447 at article n° 57 repeats investigation duty of local corps; new street law Legislative Decree (D. Lgs.) 1992 April 30, n° 285 at article n° 12 lists local police among street police services; all new laws usually talk about police services without distinction between existing corps. New power and duties, formally acquired over 22 years ago, could not transform some thousands of Vigili into local policemen in a little, and we may say that the wave of translation into modern police corps is still in progress, although it is actually discussed a complete revision of mother law 65/86 we talked above. Last step of this path we will consider is the Constitutional Law (L.Cost.) 2001 October 18, n° 3 which revised the article n° 117 of Italian Constitution. New federal purpose stated that local police service is ruled by Regions laws. About this we must note that first impression might be an illusion. In fact a change of the Constitution in a federal way should be interpreted as a loss of equality around the nation, but this is not true. Different development of political institutions all over the nation and a tradition of domestic self governance already obtained a thousand of different corps, each one image of a different city mayor, therefore the new duty stated by revised article of Constitution implies that local police service will now be standardized at least at region level.

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