In what has become an annual tradition, members of the Polizia di Stato, Italy’s primary federal law enforcement agency, visited Seaside Heights this week – in time to take in the Columbus Day Parade and Italian festival in the borough, and get an up-close look at how their brothers and sisters in American law enforcement do their jobs.
“Everything was absolutely wonderful,” said Valentina Carlini, chief of the Sestri police station in Genoa, through translator Sandra Lazzaro, a borough resident who has organized the Polizia di Stato visit for the last five years. “I enjoyed the hospitality of the association, and I especially enjoyed the welcoming of the group.”
Lazzaro is an executive board member of the Ocean County Polizia di Stato Association, the local arm of a group that has worked with the law enforcement agency – which translates to Italian State Police – for about 20 years. But for the last five, the group has come to Seaside Heights each October to not only network with American law enforcement, but to participate in the annual parade and share pride in their country with Jersey Shore locals.
Over the past week, in addition to meeting with local police in Seaside Heights, the group took a tour of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department where they saw demonstrations of K9 officers, and learned how the agency conducts narcotics investigations. On Wednesday, the group of 13 officers toured Philadelphia and met with city Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and Chief Dennis Wilson, who stayed with the group all day. The officers, all high-ranking in the Polizia di Stato as well an agency chaplain, toured the Union League and Comcast Center in Philadelphia and also took a SWAT course.
Carlini said in addition to learning more about American law enforcement, she enjoyed visiting New York City for a day, where the group watched the Columbus Day parade. She gave special thanks to Seaside Heights and the association for serving as hosts.
Lazzaro, whose family hails from Italy and maintains a residence there, said keeping up the connection with the officers is an important source of pride and a great reminder of Italian heritage.
“We are proud and honored about our Italian heritage so much that we look forward to sharing it with the world,” she said of the association.