(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
As negotiations between government factions intensify over the coming 2011
budget, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch seized on the debate this
week to issue an urgent plea for increased police funding.
provides a revealing glimpse into the worries that grip senior law enforcement
officials over what they say is the ongoing financial neglect of the
In statements made public on Wednesday, Aharonovitch warned that
if insufficient funding continues, the police will be unable to maintain its
role as the state’s immune system and carry on its fight against diseases such
as corruption, demands by criminals for businesses to pay protection money,
organized crime intervention in local government and fraud.
These are the
kind of criminal offenses which, if left unchecked, threaten domestic stability,
inhibit market growth and cast a shadow over the country’s economy, he
Aharonovitch hails from police ranks and has prioritized the goal
of ending the struggle faced by most officers to meet their basic financial
In his call for action, he has not shied away from making some of
the harshest criticisms of current police salary levels heard to date from a
serving public security minister.
“It is inconceivable that police
officers and prison wardens will live on NIS 5,000 for many years. I have
children who serve in the force, and if I didn’t give them NIS 2,000 to NIS
3,000 a month, they would have nothing to live on,” he remarked.
these after-tax salaries, the officers [are supposed to] pay their mortgages,
send their children to kindergarten, pay back bank loans and purchase
SINCE BEING appointed public security minister in 2009,
Aharonovitch has clashed repeatedly with Insp.- Gen. David Cohen. Tensions
between the two almost reached the boiling point when the minister overruled
Cohen’s decision to fire former Southern District police commander Uri
Yet no issue appears to unite them more than their joint goal of
securing fairer conditions for police officers.
In recent months, Cohen
has expressed concern over the decreasing officer-to-population ratio, which
dropped from 3.39 police officers per 1,000 residents in 2000, to 3.14 per 1,000
in 2009. The ratio is seen as a reflection of the police’s ability to keep a
sufficient number of officers on patrol, and respond to calls from the general
public. Cohen has blamed the government’s failure to increase the police budget
for the continuous drop.
The police budget stands at NIS 7.6 billion, and
has remained largely static over the past decade. Seventy-five percent of the
funds go to salaries, 21% for purchasing resources and 4% for development plans.
No money is left over to raise the salaries of officers or increase the number
of cadets, Cohen said.
The current police budget is also lower than the
total cost of crime incurred by the state every year. Criminal activities cost
NIS 10 billion to NIS 12 billion in 2009, according to a Public Security
Ministry memo released this week.
“I see how masses of officers are
leaving the police and Prisons Service,” Aharonovitch said. “Quality people are
leaving after they see the numbers on their pay slip.”
According to the
ministry, a starting officer will earn a mere NIS 4,148 a month, and
to pass the NIS 5,000 mark until he or she rises through five ranks to
first-sergeant. The process takes around five years to complete, and for
officers, the journey up the chain of command will end here.
number of officers will then be promoted to the rank of
ensuring them a salary of NIS 8,571. Only a select few will go on to
assistant-commanders, deputy-commanders, lieutenant- commanders, and
commanders. The salaries of these high-ranking officers range from NIS
Without a change in policy, the Israel Police will find it
increasingly difficult to maintain its current level of crime fighting
The coming weeks will reveal whether Aharonovitch
has succeed in his goal of forcing the Finance Ministry and the
take note of his dire warnings.