2014 marks the 200th anniversary of Italy’s police force.
Well, one of Italy’s police forces anyway – the Carabinieri.
Italy has five national policing bodies: the Polizia di Stato (state police), Guardia di Finanza (financial police), Arma dei Carabinieri (military police), Polizia Penitenziaria (penitentiary police) and the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (national forestry corps). There is also the Interforces for joint operations among the various forces.
And this is not to mention the other policing bodies on a more local and provincial level.
As to the Carabinieri, it is not only a policing force, but also one of Italy’s four military organisations (the others being the Italian army, navy and air force). Their uniforms thus sport stars just the military.
The Carabinieri is technically even older than Italy itself, being that Italy only became an official nation upon unification in 1861, whilst the Carabinieri were formed in 1861.
The Carabinieri were brought about by the Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia, Vittorio Emanuele I, and armed with a carabina rifle, whence came the name Carabinieri.
Upon unification, it was this body that was initially made responsible for law enforcement while a civil service was established.
Today, there are over 4.5 thousand Carabinieri offices around Italy and 117,943 sworn members.
Their duties include the general law enforcement of military and civilians, emergency and disaster response, international peacekeeping missions and more. They also took part in the World Wars, even serving in battles internationally.
The Carabinieri are subject to very strict rules, including not being able to serve in your own region (although nowadays this is only for the first 8 years).
To call the Carabinieri, you dial 112. For the Polizia, it’s 113.