(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
It hasn’t been an easy year for Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino, presiding over a police force wracked by scandal.
Most prominent was probably the failure of the police emergency number during the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens over the summer, but Danino also had to contend with the resignation of senior officers accused of wrongdoing, a public spat this week with his boss, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, and a string of brazen mob hits on public streets.
Despite all that, at a conference in Orlando, Florida, later this month the US nonprofit group Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) plans to give Danino – and his Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts – a leadership award for what it says is their central role in forging cooperation.
Palestinian police jurisdiction applies only in Area A, around 22 percent of the West Bank that is under full Palestinian Authority control. Over half of the West Bank is in Area C, under full Israeli control, and the rest is supposed to cooperatively policed between the two agencies.
The Israel Police has said that in the past couple of years they have seen a marked increase in Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian cooperation in policing the area, not only on security issues but also in combating traffic accidents, the drug trade, car theft, illegal firearms, and other fields, though problems still remain.
Danino will share the award with Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Hazza al-Majali, former head of the kingdom’s public security forces, and the head of the Palestinian Civil Police, Gen. Hazem Atallah.
The Israel Police said in a statement Wednesday that the three police chiefs will receive the award as “trailblazers who forged professional and operational cooperation through great courage and despite the political sensitivity.”
Danino said Wednesday that the Israel Police “must continue to develop unique projects and to shore up cooperation and working relations with their colleague across the world, in order to increase their capabilities and solidify Israel Police’s position as one of the world’s leading and most professional police forces.”
Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF, said Wednesday that the award is the result of two and a half years of meetings among the three sides and their counterparts from big city police forces in the US. He said one of the principle issues they looked at was cooperation on policing Highway 60 in the Jordan Valley, which runs through both Israeli and PA-controlled territory.
The first meeting of the three sides was held on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea in July 2012, followed by one in February 2013 in Eilat, and a meeting in August 2013 in Jericho, Wexler said.
Wexler praised the three police chiefs for holding the meetings and working together, saying “it took some real leadership” and that “even in these trying times they represent a hopeful sign for the future.”
Asked if he was familiar with the heavy criticism leveled at the Israel Police and chief Danino over the past year, and the series of scandals they’ve faced, he said, “If you’re a big city police chief anywhere it’s inevitable that you’re going to be complemented one day and criticized the next day, so we looked at what they did with leadership. Not everyone would take the risks that they took, so that’s what we looked at.”
Danino will be joined on his trip to Florida by four police commanders from the southern district who served with distinction on the home front during Operation Protective Edge – deputy Lachish police chief Gabi Dadon, Ashdod station commander Noam Shekel, Ashkelon chief Shimon Portal, and Ayarot station commander Yaniv Shalma.