The Carabinieri (formally Arma dei Carabinieri, “Carabinieri Force” or previously Corpo dei Carabinieri Reali, “Royal Carabinieri Corps” are the national gendarmerie of Italy who primarily carry out domestic policing duties. Unlike the Polizia di Stato, one of Italy’s other main law enforcement agencies, the Carabinieri are a military force (Guardia di Finanza, another law enforcement agency in Italy is military too). As the fourth branch of the Italian Armed Forces, they come under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. In practice, there is a significant overlap between the jurisdiction of the Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri, who are contacted on separate emergency telephone numbers. Unlike the Polizia di Stato, the Carabinieri have responsibility for policing the military, and a number of members regularly participate in military missions abroad.
Carabinieri have policing powers that can be exercised at any time and in any part of the country, and they are always permitted to carry their assigned weapon as personal equipment (Beretta 92FS pistol). It was originally founded as the police force of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the forerunner of the Kingdom of Italy. During the process of Italian unification, it was appointed the “First Force” of the new national military organisation. Although the Carabinieri assisted in the suppression of opposition during the rule of Benito Mussolini, they were also responsible for his downfall and many units were disbanded during World War II by Nazi Germany, which resulted in large numbers of Carabinieri joining the Italian resistance movement. Since 2001, it has been one of the four Italian Armed Forces.