More than three quarters of the police force who were scheduled to patrol the Italian capital Rome called in sick on New Year’s Eve, according to the city officials.
Around 600,000 people celebrated the dawn of 2015 and surrounded the city’s landmarks such as Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Circus Maximus under the watchful eye of substitute officers instead, Italian newspaper Repubblica reported.
The number of officers set to be deployed onto the streets was 1,000 but 835 absences totalling 83.5% of the entire force “at the last hour” brought the number down to 165, the newspaper also said.
However, the officers claim that their absence from work was part of a broader stand by police union SULPL against pay, employment conditions and being short-staffed.
Deputy mayor Luigi Nieri branded the turnout “unacceptable” that could pose a “very serious” security risk for the city.
“My sincerest thanks go instead to all agents who last night took to the streets to work with a sense of responsibility and duty, to allow the rest of the citizens to have fun,” Nieri added in a statement.
General commander of the local police Raffaele Clement echoed the sentiments made by the deputy mayor and criticised the officers who went on strike on one of the busiest nights of the year.
He said: “I can only stigmatise the attitude of those among my colleagues, tried to sabotage, with an absolutely unjustified desertion, the festival of the New Year, trying to jeopardize the security of the citizens.”
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