Rome city police, the “vigili”, cause traffic jams. Huh????


The Rome “vigili”. Too much standing around, not much vigilance.

Vigili urbani, the Italian expression for city police officers, are supposed to be vigilant. Rome city police are, as a whole, anything but and are regarded with scorn by a large part of the city population. However, on February 12, they reached the height (depths?) of paradox when 10,000 of them staged a massive demonstration in downtown Rome, putting public and private transport into full tilt for several hours.

The Rome city police, who are not armed, are primarily responsible for traffic and a series of administrative functions, so their actions on Wednesday were really inexcuseable. Although there are exceptions, and I know a few of them myself, they seem on the whole to be lazy, lackadaisical, uncommitted, unprofessional and, all too often, uninformed. Recent events will certainly not make them better loved by their fellow Romans.

One or more national city police unions scheduled the demo in January when Rome’s mayor began proceedings against a number of the hundreds of Roman vigili – reportedly some 70 to 80 percent of those scheduled to work –  who deliberately stayed away work on New Year’s Eve to protest against new organizational and pay rules put into effect by the city government.  Newspapers said about 40% of Rome’s city police participated in this week’s protest march; the rest were from other parts of Italy.

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