In a bizarre case of coincidence, a large portion of Rome’s police department called in sick on New Year’s Eve.
A little more than 83 percent of the city’s police force did not show up for duty as 600,000 people took the streets of Rome to celebrate with unlawful firecrackers.
Only a handful of police officials were present to monitor the illegal activities of the partygoers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough protection for New Year’s to deal with all the chaos.
Most of the call-ins reported were viewed as outrageous. Some related to donating blood, illnesses, or sudden claims of physical disabilities.
Now, authorities of Italy’s capital are investigating why 835 officers out of 1,000 personnel were absent New Year’s Eve.
A number of theories have arisen concerning why the Department would take such extreme measures to avoid working on such an important day.
Some assume that most of the police officers came down with a mere case of laziness or wanted to take off and enjoy the festive night as well. However, others are convinced that Roman policemen wanted to sabotage everyone’s holiday parties.
Mayor Ignazio Marino said in a Facebook post that the officers’ absence may have been an "attempt to ’ruin’ the New Year celebrations"—especially in light of an ongoing dispute between the Roman government and law enforcement.
For months, police officers have been fighting for better work conditions, salaries, and more people to be hired to the force.
Their sudden actions carried out on December 31st may have been used as a silent strike.
According to RT.com, Police Union Secretary Stefano Giannini mentioned to the AdnKronos news organization how in most cases like this the force is depressingly understaffed. This puts a damper on the police department’s operations.
“Managing holiday plans and staffing shortages were underestimated,” said Giannini. “There are 5,900 of us and there should be 9,400. With these numbers, we can no longer provide a 24 hour service seven days a week.”
However, the department’s police commander is extremely disappointed in his force. He says that their actions have made not only themselves look bad, but the "good name of the entire local police force and the city of Rome."
The prime minister said in a tweet last week that this should draw attention to Rome’s public sector employment.
While he condemns the police force for the scandal, he also admits that a few rules related to employment laws need to be modified in 2015.
As one of the busiest nights of the year, investigators feel that the absent police officers put thousands of lives in danger.
Although the officers didn’t manage to ruin the fun for everyone, Marino hopes that they will be held accountable for their misconduct and lack of consideration for public safety.
Authorities are in the process of assessing the nature of the problem. They plan to seek disciplinary punishment against the missing-in-action officers.