US Army, Italian law enforcement patrolling Vicenza after downtown incidents
By NANCY MONTGOMERY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 3, 2019
VICENZA, Italy — U.S. military police and Italian police are jointly patrolling local bars and nightclubs following incidents involving troops that “reflected negatively” on the Army.
The two-vehicle patrols, including a pair of Carabinieri, two military police and a translator, are conducting random, late-night visits to popular night spots. The venues chosen for the patrols were determined by a review of police reports, U.S. Garrison Italy officials said in a recent statement.
“The decision to undertake this initiative was driven by a number of incidents involving U.S. personnel that reflected negatively on the Vicenza Military Community and its relationship with the city of Vicenza,” Dennis Brown, who is coordinating the patrol effort, said in the statement.
“By conducting these presence patrols ... we hope to influence personnel, especially younger soldiers, to conduct themselves in a positive manner and to make good, safe decisions in regards to the actions they take,” Brown added. He said another goal was to “ease the strain on community relations.”
Garrison officials were not available to respond to multiple requests for more information.
Two incidents in particular garnered local attention in recent years.
In February, a 21-year-old paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Brigade assaulted two Italian police officers, breaking one officer’s teeth, after bouncers at the strip club where the soldier was acting out called for help.
“The soldier seemed possessed,” the Il Giornale di Vicenza newspaper stated. “Not even the pepper spray could stop him. Only after a hand-to-hand fight, the policemen succeeded in handcuffing him and putting him in their vehicle.”
The soldier pleaded guilty later the same morning to injury, insult and resistance to public officials and received a suspended sentence of a year in jail.
In May 2016, soldiers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade were involved in a large, bloody brawl at a disco — the worst in 20 years, according to local media — that left several injured and caused thousands of euros in damages. Twelve paratroopers received eight-month suspended sentences from a Vicenza judge, who also levied a fine to be paid to the disco owner.