TWO OFFICERS patrol the streets of Tel Aviv as part of the police department’s foot patrol program..
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police are hoping to take control of south Tel Aviv and increase residents’ sense of security with a new foot patrol pilot program consisting of 24 officers, who will concentrate efforts around the crime-ridden central bus station and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The unit has been in operation since April, but the program was officially launched on Tuesday in the nearby Levinsky Park.
Police told The Jerusalem Post
that the purpose of the foot patrol is “situational prevention [preventing incidents of crime by creating effective deterrence], increasing residents’ sense of security, and improved accessibility of police services in the region.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said at the inauguration that there is no alternative to foot patrols.
“There is still no substitute for the direct contact of a citizen with a police officer on the street,” he said. “I have no doubt police on the beat will greatly increase the public’s confidence and trust.”
Mayor Ron Huldai, who was present at the ceremony agreed that the foot patrol is an important part of policing south Tel Aviv. “The presence of a beat cop who knows the area and the local residents is the cornerstone of police work, and I am very happy to adopt it,” he said.
South Tel Aviv has long been synonymous with crime.
According to a 2014 report by Calcalist, Tel Aviv is Israel’s most dangerous city, with a high concentration of crime in south Tel Aviv.
In the mid-2000s Israel experienced an influx of around 50,000 African asylum-seekers, who have concentrated in Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods causing tension with Israeli residents and even riots with anti-immigration protesters in 2012. Sigal Rosen, the public policy coordinator of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an NGO which advocates on the behalf of refugees and migrant workers, praised the new police effort.
“It is good to improve to the feeling of security for the residents of south Tel Aviv,” she told the Post. “This is good not just for the Israelis but also the Africans, asylum-seekers are also afraid of the area’s drug dealers and high crime.”
May Golan, a right-wing activist and head of Hebrew City, an organization that seeks to remove asylum-seekers from Israel, told the Post the foot patrol unit was a positive step.
“I am very happy about the new police foot patrol that is going to start in the neighborhoods around south Tel Aviv,” she remarked.
Nevertheless according to Golan, south Tel Aviv residents will not be secure until asylum- seekers are made to leave.
“Obviously the problem will not be solved until a real solution will take those illegal infiltrators from Eritrea out of our city and out of this country.”
Since the unit’s establishment in April, many incidents of robbery, theft, drug dealing, and prostitution have been prevented, according to police.
Rosen believes this program may lead to a better future for the south Tel Aviv community.
“There were ups and downs with police relations with the African community; this is a very blessed move by the police,” she said.