Your story in 10 lines
I was born in Syracuse (Sicily, editor’s note) in 1967 – it’s now the time of my 47th birthday! Syracuse is a wonderful city; I have found it even more beautiful in the last few years. This is the city I lived in until the age of 21. Then I moved to Catania for the first few years of university and there I took part to a police vice-chief recruitment (it was 1988). Having passed it, I studied four years at the academy (at the time it was called “Istituto Superiore di Polizia”). In 1993 I had my first assignment, in Caserta. After this I directed a police station in Sicily and subsequently I worked in the Syracuse flying squad. From 2006 to this year, I’ve been working in the Servizio Centrale Operativo (SCO) of the ministry of interior. I experienced some important cases there, several of them carried out directly by the subunit I directed.
From the 1st of September 2014 I coordinate the Venetian police head office flying squad. This is an extraordinary city, I became familiar with it as a tourist and can confirm its beauty now as a police officer. It has a completely different way of articulating your life; this is true of both the personal dimensions as well as when on duty. So I’ve spent my life up and down Italy. As a young girl I did all the things that one does at that age – including sport: dance, swimming… the end of it all was during high school, I took sport up again during the fourth year at the institute: we have many physical disciplines besides study.
Something I’d like to dedicate myself more now? Precisely Sport. The tension in the office also helps to keep me well trained!
Following a personal whim, in 2006 I got a second degree in Public administration science (the first was in law).
To be sure most of my day is dedicated to work, but I really like to travel. I love Italy, my country, and prior to travelling abroad I like to properly dedicate myself to it. I can’t organize long trips, given the job I have and I limit myself to short visits or make the best of the few free weekends I have. I really enjoy swimming and, in another life, influenced by my Syracuse origins, I’d like to work in archeology. I don’t understand much of it and I’m unable to find time for it, these are activities that are difficult to develop as much as I would like to, but at least one holds them in the heart. And they are important.
No I’m not married and I don’t have children.
You are involved is an important profession, though at times it is questioned by public opinion with respect to controversial cases.
Can you describe the human footprint you leave behind each time you begin, rack your brain and work, before resolving a case?
In our profession the work experiences are rather varied. Our frames of mind are very different – depending on the context we go to work in.
Obviously while arresting people guilty of a crime, I hope to leave in them the idea that lawfulness exists: wrongdoers must pay the consequences and the law must be implemented. You can also get probation violation lawyers for hire from here!
Often we are confronted with the victim’s emotions, centrifuged by the frenzy of the inquiry. Maybe, once discovered the author of the crime one concentrates (precisely to do justice) on him/her and often lacks attention towards the victim. Luckily, in our procedures, for years now we’ve become accustomed to a different approach, which also means reassuring the victim. In some cases, his or her passion and pain often captures you, especially in crimes to the detriment of children or particularly atrocious cases. One is also very engaged by the contact with the family that is requesting justice, information… Hence there is a constant double approach: in respects to the author of the crime and towards the victim. The sensitivity towards the victim is active from the first moment. When he or she cooperates – the sensitivity thus signifies assuming all the information – or when he or she is unable to do it, in which case I apply maximum sensitivity towards the family…
There is such an emotional charge in the work that you do I feel this is not for everyone. In the stories you have dealt with have to do with justice, when have you had the strongest feelings from the community you have helped make more secure?
Having had an experience in Sicily, it certainly has occurred during antimafia operations against the clans of the provinces I worked in.
An inquiry at the SCO (Central Operations Service), which particularly touched me, on a human level, was that of a child taken away by a nurse from the mother. I will never forget the eyes of the mother, and the father’s cry of relief once the child was found.
At SCO I was also involved with illegal immigration. In several occasions I’ve witnessed the arrival of boats packed with people accompanied by children. There I touched fear with my bare hands; the desire to run away from situations of discomfort, poverty and war. Their eyes hold everything: you read terror on one side and on the other, happiness for having arrived (alive). Which is not to be taken for granted.
There is something else that is great about my job: young people. Often we meet each other in schools and we try to get across to them the love for lawfulness. Although the audience is often vast, sending a message out is important for us. And although it may only reach two people, this already is a success.
Another great experience I had with the citizenship and schoolgirls happened when I was working for the flying squad: the children who came to the control room had a curiosity way above that of the adults and a remarkable wit. They often asked questions that were hard to answer. I’ll repeat it; the charged emotion we have to calibrate is varied. There is the investigator’s one, where you need to be cold and rational to apply a strategy. Then there is an audience all together different, for example with citizens who have nothing to do with crimes but who nevertheless have a connection with the police. From the ones who inform, to those you meet on the street and offer you their support.
Do you believe still in doctor’s luck? Or do you comfort yourself with more concrete episodes such as strength, structure, rules and cooperation between units (military and civil)?
Certainly within a structure, in an office, logic and organization are essential: you can’t confer it to improvisation. Orders, priorities, procedures and protocols are important. Intuition and a good dose of luck are also important for the investigator.
What sort of encounters do you make when you work? And when relishing in a few hours of well-deserved rest?
Good question: keeping in mind that most of the day is work for me, the people I meet for the most part are professional contacts, but very different one from the other. For instance we often meet the judges since we need to agree upon the investigation procedures. For us the nourishment comes from the requests by ordinary citizens. Often they don’t require a repressive intervention; at times they externalize situations of discomfort and neglect, we listen to them and help them find the appropriate institutions. We surely enough have relationships with professional associations, which pass-on information and offer co-operation if necessary. As mentioned before we have links with the schools, with other police forces. These are all institutional relationships that are naturally part of our line of duty.
There are also the lawyers of the offended party, not only of the guilty one… In other words the people are many and of different nature.
Besides work, I try to look for a moment of relaxation to find a way of recharging the batteries, but also moments to develop school year friendships, or with colleagues I’ve becomes friends with but I’ve not much contact with on a daily basis … Often, months go by without half a day for anything else and, in the end, that moment is often needed, just to recharge.
Have you already found a place to recharges your batteries in Venice?
By the end of January I’ll permanently be in Venice, I’m still travelling a lot to Rome, so we will have to talk about this again… and I will take full advantage of this prestigious task, which has happened to me in such an extraordinary city.
Could you describe the relationship with your colleagues in other countries? How do you live your life, maybe also considering quite significant geographical and cultural distances?
For a great proportion of criminal activities we already go abroad (drugs, human trafficking, theft): it’s normal for foreign police forces to talk one to another. There is a common language, beyond each country’s legislation. Often problems are settled in a direct way. Our relations are handled by the central services; there are technical meetings where we all sit round a table, but once the rules of engagement are agreed upon we figure the objectives are communal. The thief here in Italy who heads to Belgium or Germany represents a danger for us as well as for them. Often a personal relationship begins, beyond the investigation tasks, which materializes with reciprocal visits outside of the work context. It’s not a question of men/women, it’s beyond this: it is indiscriminately a partnership, a friendship. And often this partnership allows you to overcome the initial difficulties of the inquiry, keeping in mind, however, that everything must formally pass through the appointed offices. The relationship between two countries – two police forces – must be directed towards the emergency: personal relationships make this easier; everything then follows its own grid work and its own track.
What does society do for you?
Society has done a lot for me; it has allowed me to hold an important role and to make a dream come through. Since I was a little girl I wanted to become a policewoman. Society hasn’t turned its back on me; it has never disappointed or discouraged me. It has never barred my way. Society/life has done a lot for me. It has allowed me over these years to meet many colleagues. Especially when I was in Rome, I often travelled on a mission to many police stations. I’ve met many people and many different situations. I’ve also enriched myself on a human level.
What do you do for society and for the city you live in?
I try to give back the luck that has been awarded to me. How? Dedicating myself daily, heart and soul to my job without ever becoming demoralized. Making out of a failure an incentive to keep going forward, strengthened by the new acquired experiences.
I always have attention for listening to others. Every person needs to be listened to. And whatever I can offer, I will. With passion and enthusiasm.
I also try to think about what I could do more, to improve. I’m not sure I’m expressing myself clearly, but what I’m trying to say is, that work is important for me in the sense that a small extra finding is always a starting point, and never a point of arrival.
A beautiful, casual and unexpected occurrence, which has happened to you recently, besides the important promotion?
O my… Difficult… and maybe it might seem to you sad that I’m unable to find something, just like that, out of the blue, besides work… but you see, I’m an optimist, I always say to myself “come on, let’s keep going…” and I cannot isolate one specific moment in particular…maybe I’ll answer some other time, so that I can think about it a little longer…
A culinary passion?
Without a doubt Sicilian lasagna. And rice timbale. In spite of being unmarried and living alone, I must cook and eat well and healthy when I get home in the evening, at any hour. Nothing pre-cooked, frozen…
Which wine/drink do you prefer and why?
Of them all, I prefer the reds. I can’t do otherwise. With fish too. Sicilian, of course, such as Nero D’Avola.
The music or a book accompanying you at the moment?
These last few days I listen to Renato Zero a lot; a book, I’d say the stories by Camilleri. I’ve almost read all of them but I like to read them again. Not having the opportunity of returning home much, wherever I am they remind me of my homeland. The views, dialect, the smells (when for example he describes the lunch at Montalbano).
A talent you have and one you’re missing.
I don’t like falseness. A talent I miss? If, on the surface, I don’t like a person, I can’t be open and communicative straight away… I need more time to get into a relation.
I can’t imagine in your work you’re able to lead a slow life. But in other moments, what are your methods for living a slow life?
I live slowly when I manage to go on holiday and I recharge myself under the sun and the beach of the islands, especially Sicily.
What have you learnt from life until now?
I’ve learnt that if you want something and you are persevering, you will succeed. Not only, even though there can be moments of difficulty and disappointment (in spite of being an optimist par excellence, seeing always and solely the glass half full), they are very useful. To go over what I did wrong (at work or in private life) and not do it again.
Translated by Paolo Witte
Ms. Angela Lauretta has been pictured by Laura Volpato, Treviso in her police office in Venice, with Hasselblad.