Will all Israeli police investigators soon be subject to polygraphs?

Public Security Minister and Police Commissioner seek polygraph tests of senior officers, while bill due to be proposed would cover all police investigators.

May 15, 2017 15:53
2 minute read.
Israel police

Israel Police patrol car [File]. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A initiative headed by Likud MK David Amsalem mandating polygraph tests for all police investigators has provoked backlash from the Israel Police, who see the initiative as invasive and unnecessary.

Amsalem, who chairs the Knesset Committee on Internal Affairs and Environment, is planning to propose the bill in his committee Yediot Aharonot first reported on Monday.

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The initiative would require all police investigation officers - numbered around 1,600 people - to undergo polygraph tests. Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alschiech and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan were originally planning an initiative to implement polygraph tests on officers promoted to senior ranks.

As part of an effort to improve the image of the police and mitigate information leaking to the media, the polygraph tests for senior officers were meant to deal with issues of sexual assault, relationships to criminal organizations and police leaks.

The implementation of large scale polygraph tests is an unsettling element in the police force, which sees the initiative as insinuating police investigators as untrustworthy.

“It was our initiative for this law we do believe that some of the very high ranking officers should be polygraphed, because they have to be above and beyond,” said one police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “But we do not think all other officers are candidates for the polygraph because we do believe that they are honest people.”

Alsheich and Erdan proposed the polygraph initiative through Amasalem, because it needs Knesset approval as polygraphs are not permitted for employment purposes.

“We have to reach a reasonable compromise that will also reduce the risk of leakage of information from the investigations, but will not impose a burden on the entire organization and create a sense of suspicion toward all its officers,” Erdan told Yediot Aharonot.

In response to the initiative Mickey Rosenthal (Zionist Union) said, “The idea of ​​sending police officers to a polygraph is not intended to clean up the police but to hurt their spirit.”

Rosenthal continued arguing that initiative is connected to the ongoing criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Netanyahu is trying to extricate himself from an indictment using all the means, including a fatal blow to the status of the law and justice system," he said.

A spokesperson for Amsalem said that Rosenthal is seeking to weaken the MK’s role in examining the police.

Earlier this month, after Rosenthal claimed that he knew police would recommend to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office released a statement saying that police may recommend an indictment for self-serving reasons.

“After months of police leaks saying that they’ll recommend an indictment, does anyone think that they’ll have the courage to climb down from the tree and admit there is nothing?” the statement said. 

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