Stories > The 52 different types of Police in Italy
The 52 different types of Police in Italy

The 52 different types of Police in Italy

Published 2021-02-04 by Peter Ternström

Did you know that there are 52 different types of police in Italy? Everything from municipal police (Polizia Municipale) to highway police (Polizia Stradale) and military police (Carabinieri). There are also special forest police, border control police, and science police.

I'm not kidding – the science police are very much real. A running joke in Italy is that they ensure the laws of physics are obeyed.

Most strange type of police? Without a doubt the sewer police. They have a special police department for water and sewage. They have guns. I wonder why? There must be a story here that is absolutely incredible. What did they find in Rome's drains that required them to use weapons? Can't even imagine. (Is it still there?)

Each type of police is its own government agency. They rarely cooperate, and if they do, they do so very reluctantly. Can you imagine what this costs? Having 52 police agencies, director-generals, administrative staff and so on. A nightmare.

The reason for this is a man with the surname Mussolini. Whether Mussolini was a good or bad person for the country, there are divided opinions. Don't make the mistake of assuming that the Italians hate Mussolini. On the contrary – he is quite popular, even though the ideology he represented was Mediterranean Nazism. Mussolini used the police against dissidents.

Most importantly, a lot of Communists got their asses whooped. The country under Mussolini's leadership was a police state. The police got a bad reputation. When Mussolini's regime went under, the police were divided into 52 units. Because the police should never be too powerful and used as a weapon against the people of Italy. The sewer police should never, ever, be able to seize control of the Italian republic.

A Lambo in Maranello? Straight to jail

If you drive a supercar, you will occasionally be pulled over. Not because you have done something wrong, but because everyone loves fast cars in Italy.

Sometimes you will be stopped several times a day. After looking at your car, they will insist that you drive off as fast as you can. Feel free to use launch control. Do as they say. Put the pedal to the metal, and show off a little. Childish, but fun. It is part of your Italian experience.

As a tourist, you do not have to worry. As long as you don't do something really stupid you won't have any problems. The Italian police are very polite. A little speeding, as long as you don't drive recklessly, can be forgiven as long as you are perfectly sober. Do not drink and drive.

Did you know? Polizia Stradale operates a Lamborghini Huracan police car. It is a LP640-4 car with blue lights on the roof and all the necessary police equipment in the car.

The car is not used to chase speeders on the Italian Autostrada. It is mostly used to transport organs betweens hospitals and for public relations. Lamborghini is also sponsoring the airport of Bologna with a follow-me car.

In northern Italy, there is a system of speed cameras called TUTOR. It measures average speeds of all cars and automatically sends fines to those who drive too fast. This does not apply to cars with foreign license plates.

However, there are regular speed cameras here and there. They work just fine and will mail a fine to your home, wherever you live, even if you are in a rental car. The delay is about a year between the picture being taken, and you receive a letter in English in which any of the 52 police authorities want you to pay.

I have never received a letter from the Sewer Police, but several letters from Polizia Stradale. Here is my advice – pay the fine immediately. You don't want to have problems the next time you go on holiday in the world's best country for people who love cars.

Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
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