Rome's mayor starts films-for-cops initiative

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ROME -- Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni has worked out a deal with the government of Romania that will trade screenings of Italian films and other cultural events for police manpower to keep the Italian capital's growing gypsy population under control.

The unusual plan was hatched by Veltroni, who, according to the daily newspaper Il Giornale, saw a chance to promote Italian culture in Romania while promoting order back home. A spokesman for the city of Rome confirmed the plan but would not elaborate.

The films-for-cops plan is part of a wider effort to stem the tide of illegal Romanians in Rome, who, according to media reports, are arriving to the tune of 1,000 per month.

Few of the new immigrants speak Italian, and many are living in gypsy villages around the capital. The Romanian police officers will be better equipped in terms of language and experience to deal with the growing shanty towns, according to the plan.

Veltroni also plans to visit three western Romanian villages thought to be producing most of the recent surge of immigrants in order to convince them not to make the overland journey to Rome, the city Romania is named after.

In return for providing a squad of Romanian officers to work for an unspecified period of time in Rome, Italy and the European Union will sponsor an all-night gala that will feature free screenings of Italian films -- plus music and other cultural events -- in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.

Italian films also will be available to screen in Romanian cinemas in Bucharest and elsewhere.
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