ROME — When Inspector Luca Sita picked up two new N95 masks at his police station in Ferrara in central Italy on Thursday, he was thrown for a loop: One mask was white, and the other was pink.
He works in plainclothes so he was more perplexed that he was vexed. But he immediately thought about his fellow street workers and squad car drivers who had to intervene in various situations including making arrests.
“Institutionally,” he said, wearing a pink mask “is a bad look.”
He said that pink was not offensive by itself. A mask of any other color than white, black, or blue, which matches the national police uniform, would have also been unacceptable.
“Green, orange — any lively color would have been unwearable,” he said.
The Sindacato Autonomo di Polizia, a trade union, immediately fired off a missive to Lamberto Giannini, Italy’s police chief, expressing “perplexity” that pink N95 masks had been sent to a few police stations in various regions.
The letter cited a 2019 memo from the police chief of the time that exhorted officers to “avoid wearing noncompliant garments that could prejudice the decorum of the institution.”
The police “must give the appearance of authority and efficiency, which is why we thought it opportune to raise the question,” Stefano Paoloni, the union’s secretary-general, said in a telephone interview.
“It’s not a prejudice against the color,” he added, but rather a question of decorum.
Italians used social media to make fun of Pink Panthers, gift horses, and fragile masculinity.
It was not clear where the masks came from on Friday. The Interior Ministry, which oversees State Police, declined to comment.
The office for the commissioner for coronavirus emergencies, which supplies and distributes personal protection and medical devices, declined to comment.
“I hope that after we raised our concerns there will be an attempt to distribute more sober colors,” Mr. Paoloni said.
Teresa Bellanova, deputy minister of infrastructure said on TwitterShe said that there was nothing wrong with officers wearing colored masks. “The respect for uniforms is not given by colors,” she said, “but by how the men and women who wear those uniforms behave and work.”
Source: NY Times