Military Arrive to Patrol Florence Station
This month, 24 soldiers arrived to patrol the Santa Maria Novella station and vicinity in order to combat an ongoing rise in crime in Florence. Whether it’s drug trading in front of sacred landmarks or robbing locally owned businesses, Florentines are not happy with the perceived uptick in crime. This situation will be countered with stepped up security in conjunction with an increase in security all around Italy.
The stairs next to the Santa Maria Novella station and the main entrance of the basilica facing the square have become hotbeds for illegal activities and illicit behavior. Theft, robbery, assault, and drug dealing have become a little too close to commonplace for the liking of residents. Stations are important to the identity of a city, a gateway which represents it. For the citizens of Florence, its main station does not convey a sense of security is supposed to pervade the city itself. Contrary, however, to its perceived reputation, Florence was ranked the fifth leading province in crime per capita in Italy, ranking above Rome and far above Naples according to Statista’s 2020 chart.
President Fabrizio Carabba of the Borgognissanti Association of shop and restaurant owners, an organization whose businesses have also experienced theft first hand, is urging the mayor to have troops also assigned to areas outside of the city center. Earlier this month, Bar Melody, a café in the Florence neighborhood of Isolotto, was raided by a thief for the fifth time in less than a year. The thief broke into the store, leaving broken glass in the front entrance, then proceeded to ransack the business, smashing dozens of bottles on the floor and escaping with €30. The Rifredi district, also known as District 5, has been faced with the problem of juvenile gangs giving inhabitants a difficult time. Nonetheless, Santa Maria Novella has become one of the central places in Florence for petty crime and will receive special attention.
In order to put a halt to unwanted illegal activities, the National Safety Committee has constructed a dense security plan for Florence with the aim of putting an end to its escalation in crime. The soldiers have been sent to Florence to ensure its protection under the military project “Strade Sicure” or “Safe Streets.” They are currently patrolling the Santa Maria Novella station and immediate vicinity. The deployed soldiers are working continuously to inspect the station’s steps and the square front of the basilica of Santa Maria Novella 24/7.
Thirty police officers will also arrive in Florence before the end of the year. The Italian government has decided that action must be taken quickly to prevent perpetrators of crime from switching locations and avoiding law enforcement officials.
Florence is one of 11 provinces to receive such a security upgrade from the Ministry of the Interior, led by Matteo Piantedosi. In all, 400 soldiers have been assigned throughout Italy until December 2023, as outlined by Legislative Decree 133. The presence of the soldiers is intended to increase safety of the railway infrastructure through surveillance and enforcement. Four hundred soldiers were sent throughout Italy, comprising the 24 who were allocated to Florence, 11 to Genoa and 105 to Rome, with the difference in numbers likely due in part to differences in population. Government officials at the ministry hopes these measures will help protect the tens of thousands of people who pass through the Santa Maria Novella station every day. (Daniel J. Capobianco)