In the wake of the police’s struggle to meet its tasks while staying within the
small budget allocated to it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged on
Monday to increase the number of officers in Israel, especially in the North and
in Arab areas.
Netanyahu also said he would beef up numbers by increasing
the number of National Service recruits in the police. He said a government
decision would be passed on the issue within two weeks.
But the latter
aspect of Netanyahu’s plan was dismissed by former Jerusalem police chief Micky
Levy, who likened it to “giving Acamol to a heart attack patient.”
get officers who are less good this way,” Levy said. “To be a police officer is
a profession. On the field, an officer is like a small judge who has to
make decisions. A 25-year-old professional officer will respond differently than
an 18- year-old [from National Service].”
The police’s budget stands at
NIS 7.5 billion a year, a figure police say is woefully inadequate in light of
Israel’s rapidly growing population and varied policing needs. The IDF, by
comparison, has an annual budget of NIS 60 billion.
“When they decide on
budget cuts, the army does not get touched, but the Public Security Ministry is
affected,” Levy said.
He explained that over 80 percent of the police
budget is spent on salaries – leaving little for technological innovations,
building new stations or increasing officer ranks.
“The Israel Police is
always left wanting and one step behind. The missions faced by police in Israel
have no equivalent anywhere in the world,” Levy said. “In no other country does
the police have responsibility for domestic security in a country surrounded by
enemies and facing terrorist threats.
“This is a special burden,” Levy
said, adding that the current budget does not allow police to meet its goals.
“The blanket is too short. If the police pulls it up to cover its face, its feet
will get cold.”
Levy also criticized the decision to create central
police operator rooms in each police district, rather than allowing citizens to
phone operators in their local stations.
“If someone calls police in the
North, and there is a call center in Haifa, the operator will not understand the
area. Was the call made from a residential area or an industrial zone?”
Israel has 3.19 officers for every 1,000 civilians, a figure that the police
believes is inadequate in light of the plethora of policing challenges and
The police believe that an addition of 900 officers
could lower crime rates by 10%, which would in turn save the country up to NIS
3.4 billion a year.