Anthony M. Quattrone
The new mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, who ran on a law-and-order platform during recent city elections, is pushing to increase the number of police video surveillance cameras in several locations in the city. The Mayor wants more cameras downtown, especially in the main port and central train station areas, where tourists have been the subject of petty and violent crime over the past months.
The mayor met on 11 July 2011 with the Prefect of Naples, Andrea De Martino, at the prefecture government building in Naples to discuss the closed circuit TV system. According to the Prefect, the main issue is not the installation of the cameras, but their maintenance. There is a plan to add an additional 20 cameras to the ones already installed and connected to police headquarters. The Mayor has announced that a feed from the state police closed circuit video surveillance system will now also reach municipal police headquarters. He has also told the Prefect that the city will seek funding from the Campania Region for the maintenance of the video surveillance system.
The mayor’s push, however, is encountering some difficulty due to the intricacies of the overall Italian police system, which is composed of different forces that, at times, get into each other’s way. The mayor, a former prosecutor, only controls municipal police, whose major mission is to direct traffic, enforce parking rules, and to ensure administrative compliance on the part of commercial activities. The state police, who are under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, and the Carabinieri, who are part of the Ministry of Defense, perform overlapping duties with respect to security services in the city and, at times, also perform the duties of the municipal police. The finance police, who are under the Minister of Economy and Finance, are responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling, but may be called to perform some of the same duties as the state police and the Carabinieri.
The Prefect, who is an official appointed by the central government, is responsible for providing security in the province under his control. He must ensure that the activities of the Carabinieri, the state police, and the finance police are coordinated to the maximum extent possible to obtain best efficiency and to avoid misunderstandings between commanders and between units of the different security forces patrolling the territory. The 11 July 2011 meeting between the Prefect and the Mayor will need to become a routine event if both parties are interested in providing the city with the highest level of security within existing budgetary limitations.
In Naples, municipal police have been the target of severe criticism due to their extreme tolerance of traffic and parking misbehavior on the part of particularly creative Neapolitan drivers who are notoriously allergic to traffic and parking rules and regulations. On 1 July 2011, the mayor confirmed the appointment of the chief of municipal police, Colonel Luigi Sementa, on a fixed term contract for the next twelve months. The mayor also announced that 106 new municipal cops had come into service and were already on the beat. The total municipal police force is now up to approximately 2,500, of which about two-thirds can be or are deployed to patrols.
The Mayor intends to use municipal police to increase the sense of security in the city on the part of citizens and tourists by increasing the number of policemen on patrols. He also intends to have municipal police sanction violations with respect to waste management. In particular, city police will be checking if commercial activities are respecting city deliberations regarding waste separation and the method and times for disposing of garbage. Private citizens will also be subject to higher scrutiny on the part of city police, who will be on the lookout for the type of garbage placed on the streets and the time when citizens are dumping trash.