We learn from a Facebook post that a few days ago, four Roman policemen answered an emergency call concerning lamentations coming from an apartment in Rome. When they arrived on the spot, they found an elderly couple plagued by loneliness, Jole (89) and Michele (94). The policemen cooked and ate dinner with them, thus making the essential gift of humanity. Their gesture has gone viral on social networks and conquered newspaper pages.
Yet, there is nothing extraordinary about Alexander, Andrew, Ernesto, and Mirko, the heroes of this story, except their unusual popularity. Our police operators intervene every day to help ordinary citizens. It is their ordinary work, along with preventing and preventing crimes and stopping criminals. Another case that happened in Rome a few months ago was that of an agent who had helped a woman in the street, and another homeless woman, who had been assisted in childbirth by a police officer right next to St. Peter’s square. In Cagliari, two agents intervened to rescue an elderly woman who had difficulties on her way to the grocery store. There are countless cases when, called to stop thieves of basic necessities, who became criminals out of poverty, police officers paid for the stolen goods and helped those who had become thieves out of need with money.
On the Facebook profile of the Rome Police Headquarters was posted a moving video, to thank the 50 thousand users who frequent it. But we, citizens, should thank them thousands of times every day. They are the angels of the road, particularly active and valuable in a time of crisis, rising social problems and, above all, at times of loneliness, even and especially in the crowded metropolises. In Terris talked with the Chief Commissioner of the Police in Rome, Andrea Proietti, who invites us to offer “caresses” of solidarity, with a slap in the face of indifference and self-indulgence.
The media put a spotlight on this beautiful episode of humanity whose heroes are our Police officers who “caressed” the two elderly people in Rome. It became an advertisement for the Italian police forces. But, this is not an isolated case, I guess. Do you face many cases like that?
“We face such situations on a daily basis. Always, when we enter someone’s home, we are faced with difficult living conditions, both in the case of families who have a person who commits crimes such as drug dealing, or where happen cases of domestic violence behaviors, or, as in this case of the two elderly people when the problem is severe loneliness. In the case of Jole and Michael, we received an alarm call and rushed there, fearing the worst. The scene we found there was sad, but not alarming. It was a human situation that required delicacy and sensitivity, like so many other similar situations. In our work, our humanity is experienced and expected every day, on every occasion, be it is about stopping an offender or about helping a person in need.”
Do you think there is an increased social unrest behind this demand for your intervention? To help the lonely, the abandoned, victims of material and existential poverty?
“We certainly live in times of crisis, hence, crime and social emergencies have intensified. Those who work in law enforcement are called to work overtime, sometimes to replace other social figures. Especially the agents who work in the operational department of the police headquarters in Rome, colleagues who intervened to rescue the two elderly people in Rome, the Office of Public Assistance General Prevention. We are professionally trained to operate in the field of security on two fronts: crime prevention and answering the urgent needs of the citizens, offering them first aid. Then, if necessary, we contact industry experts, 833, social workers, or any other relevant structure. We are experts in managing emergencies. We work on the streets and we witness such situations every day.”
Do you have the necessary financial and organizational resources to handle these emergencies?
“Yes, we have the resources we need and expert staff, trained and able to handle these situations the best way, with effective backup operations. We professionalism and appropriate tools. In situations that require a different kind of intervention, continuous and specialist, we get in touch with the relevant organizations.”
Would you like to make an appeal to those who have decision-making responsibilities in the institutions?
“I would rather make an appeal to the whole society, rather than to the institutions, to which I belong myself. I would like to make this appeal to every single citizen, including myself: rediscover solidarity and the sense of fraternal humanity. In a world where we see violence, selfishness, indifference to the needs of other people every day, experiencing true humanity can make the difference in the quality of life of every person, also in terms of security. My appeal to everyone is to have a compassionate heart. The tragedy Jole and Michele are experiencing is loneliness, and general human warmth would be enough to overcome this problem. These four policemen have only spent a bit of their time to put a smile on their face, make them a caress, and create an oasis of happiness with a simple dinner. We try to do it every day. We show humanity both to citizen in need and to those we arrest because they are guilty of some crime. There is nothing exceptional in this, as we see it. It would not take much to reduce suffering in this world, if everyone contributed.”