Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announces the deployment of 90 new patrol cars in the city.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“My goal is to be able to respond within one minute to any incident that involves violence in the city,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a rainy Sunday afternoon press conference, as he stood near a fleet of 90 municipal patrol cars lining Safra Square.
“We’re going to build up a force, but I didn’t want to wait,” he added.
Indeed, as Arab violence continues to plague the capital despite the recent deployment of 1,000 additional police officers by the Public Security Ministry, Barkat said time is of the essence.
“The return of security to the inhabitants of the city is our most important mission,” he said.
According to Barkat, municipal employees armed with pistols will travel in pairs using the vehicles to patrol flashpoint neighborhoods in the city. Should an arrest take place, police officers will be called in to oversee the procedure, he said.
“It’s part of the new initiatives we’re developing in the city of Jerusalem for improvement of security,” he explained.
“What we’ve added today is the deployment of municipal first responders for any kind of potential violence that may happen in the city.”
Barkat said the municipality is also working in close coordination with the government to expand punitive measures against criminals, and to utilize technology, including aerial balloons, drones and cameras to monitor east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
“Backed by the prime minister and the Israel Police, today we start one of the most comprehensive security programs for the city’s students and residents,” he said.
The initiative will work in two phases, Barkat explained. First municipal workers will patrol the city independently, and in the coming days the second phase will incorporate police and Civil Guard volunteers.
“It’s a joint venture and we’re going to be adding policemen to the force and the Civil Guard to fill in places where we want additional people,” he said. “Today we’ve launched the municipal part, so in many ways it’s a municipal police force being deployed in the city.”
Barkat said the municipal enforcement patrol is being led by city supervisors who will be assisted by other municipal employees.
In addition to the fleet of patrol cars, Barkat said a comprehensive security plan to protect synagogues and schools is being launched, including 50 rapid-response police units, 215 security guards stationed at all preschools and kindergartens, and hundreds of new surveillance cameras.
“We will return routine and peace to Jerusalem for the residents,” he said.
Although police said rioting in the capital abated somewhat Sunday, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said an officer was lightly wounded by Arab youths throwing rocks in east Jerusalem’s Isawiya neighborhood Sunday afternoon.
No arrests were made and the officer was treated at the scene, he said.