Security in Milan, former mayor Albertini: “Gabrielli? The general is fine, but what about the legions?”

Between crime and teen gangs, perceived safety has decreased. Are there adequate personnel for the police force, including local ones?”

“A comment on Gabrielli’s appointment? Of course I am happy. In fact, I have already sent a message of congratulations to Mayor Sala for this absolutely excellent choice.” The voice is that of Gabriele Albertini, politician and entrepreneur. Mayor of Milan from the end of the 90s to 2006, Albertini comments to Adnkronos on the news that has been bouncing around the city for days: Palazzo Marino’s decision to entrust Franco Gabrielli with the responsibility for security and social cohesion. “I would say that in the panorama of security experts, Sala could not find better: former police chief, former prefect of Rome, undersecretary with responsibility for services. In short, a stellar CV. Even if I don’t know him closely, except for events officers and for his work in the institutions, it seems to me that on a personal and human level he is the right person, with the right sensitivity”.

A positive opinion, that of the former mayor. Which, however, underlines how it is essential to also talk about resources and means, and not just about men in command. “In a situation of war against crime, insecurity and degradation, in addition to the general, the imperator or the legatus legionis – as we might define it – we need the legions, that is, we need the means”, says Albertini, using metaphors and images that bring back a taste for the glories of ancient Rome. So he asks himself: “Are there adequate personnel for the police force, even local ones?”.

His is a privileged point of view. Albertini sat on the most important seat in Palazzo Marino twice: the first in ’97, the second in 2001. Always for the centre-right. During his tenures, he says the focus on security was high. “Is there still a neighborhood policeman? We had established 500. And they should have reached 1000. I don’t know if there are still any or if their profile has changed”, he recalls. And then he reels off the memory of other projects, designed to improve the liveability of the city. “Is Milan bright enough? We have created an urban lighting plan, with 60,000 light bulbs. I don’t know if this is still the case.”

Albertini says that during his Milanese political season he was the first mayor of a large Italian city to sign an important joint agreement for security. Napolitano, then Minister of the Interior, sealed the agreement like a notary. “With the then prefect Sorge, we signed the protocol by which the mayor of Milan and the prefect of the province co-chaired the provincial public order and security committee. Symbolically and factually, it meant that all the institutions and law enforcement agencies they worked together, with a unified operations center.”

Gabrielli’s appointment was surrounded by controversy. There were several attacks, especially from the centre-right, against Mayor Sala. For many, the choice to entrust a role in the Municipality to the former police chief represents an admission of the insecurity that the city has been experiencing and facing in recent times. For others, however, it is the sign of a gentle commissionership which affects the current councilor of the same sector, Marco Granelli. “The political struggle requires that one must prejudicially criticize the government if one is in opposition. It is not an argument in my field, but I understand it”, reflects Albertini. “On the question of the councilor, there is no doubt that there is a question of compatibility. If the legatus legionis (Gabrielli, ed.) has an effective role, it is clear that in this case the councilor dedicated to safety is stripped of his authority. If instead the his is a symbolic role, it is different. Surely, Sala will have spoken with Granelli, who will have accepted a sort of division of roles with someone who has the competence and experience of intervening on serious and serious safety issues”.

“We are not in Gotham City,” Gabrielli chanted during Monday’s press conference. But how has security changed in Milan from the years in which Albertini was mayor to today? Has the situation really gotten worse? “Today there are many more problems, for a series of reasons. First of all, certainly this influx of immigration, which is difficult to control. There are young people, and therefore able to move, who do not have a job, but who have food and free accommodation. They have to spend 24 hours a day doing something. And if they don’t have a job, we know well what they can do. There’s no doubt that this topic is a new cause.”

But not only. Milan is the scene of an increasingly invasive phenomenon: that of predatory crime, of baby gangs. “There are these mini criminals: mini only because they are minors and not because they are minor criminals. They also belong to not the lowest social classes: they are not only proletarians, but also bourgeois. They have nothing better to do than carry out punitive raids, “Clockwork Orange” style, hitting defenseless citizens, perhaps in their privacy. Baby gangs are an endemic phenomenon”, says Albertini. “In fact and in perception, insecurity has undoubtedly increased. We therefore need even more resources and more political will to use them to deal with this wider phenomenon”. (by Marco Di Vincenzo)