Police hit goal of 2,000 recruits in 2016

35% increase from 2015 • 14% of new officers from minority populations.

December 29, 2016 21:36
3 minute read.
Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheikh shakes hands with the 2,000th police recruit Dr. Ido Krone at the Ba

Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheikh shakes hands with the 2,000th police recruit Dr. Ido Krone at the Bat Yam recruitment center on Thursday. (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

Israel Police has reached its goal of 2,000 recruits in 2016, with the recruitment of Dr. Ido Krone, a biologist who will be working in the forensics department.

The year-long recruitment drive was part of a larger effort to increase policing in Jerusalem and Arab communities and to change the largely negative view of police among the public.

“Police recruitment is one of the most important parameters of the public’s confidence in the police,” Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich said at a ceremony marking the 2,000th new officer, held at the Bat Yam recruitment center on Thursday.

“We set a target of 2,000 recruits during 2016. Today we can say that we reached and satisfied the 2016 police recruitment drive,” he said, adding that another 33 men and women will join the ranks before the new year begins.

“I am very happy to be a part of the police,” Krone told The Jerusalem Post, as his daughter clung to his leg. “The police was the best fit for me and my degree.”

This year saw a 35% increase from 2015. Among the recruits, 14% are Christian, Druse, Circassian or Muslim.

Counterterrorism, patrol and traffic units gained 1,329 recruits, while 425 were added to investigative and intelligence roles, and 135 became detectives. The remaining 111 were assigned to various roles.

“The biggest challenge was the image of the police,” spokeswoman Meirav Lapidot said. “This shows that people are seeing the real side of the police.”

Police have long been criticized for heavy-handedness and racism, especially toward those of Ethiopian descent and Arabs. In a September survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics, only 39% of the general public assessed police performance positively, while 69% of Arab Israelis had a negative view.

In August, Alsheich incurred backlash when he acknowledged many officers’ implicit bias toward those communities, and said it is “natural” for police to view Arab Israelis and Ethiopian Israelis with suspicion, due to their high crime rate. Alsheich said work is being done to fix the problem.

This year, police launched a campaign with the Public Security Ministry, in hopes of improving their image and gaining new applicants.

The effort, “Join the Police Now - A Life Changing Choice,” also featured media campaigns targeting the Israeli- Arab community, which police says has succeeded in increasing Muslim officers from 2% to 4% of the force.

Israeli Muslims make up approximately 17% of the population.

“I am [joining the police] because I want to give security to my children,” Linda Khaliliya, 37, one of the new recruits, said Thursday. Khaliliya, a former lawyer who is slated to become a police investigator, said the language barrier between police and Israeli Arabs “is a very big obstacle,” and that as an Arab woman she has the cultural knowledge to further the police relationship with Israeli-Arab communities.

“If I am sitting with an Arab woman she will feel more comfortable. An Arab officer knows how to feel the mentality better, he is closer to the society,” Khalilya said.

Along with increased recruitment among Arabs, police plan to open 12 stations in Arab communities, as part of a five-year, NIS 2 billion plan to increase law enforcement in those localities.

Critics, such as Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, argue that increasing Arab recruits does not change an underlying system that does not treat Arabs the same as Jews.

“This [recruitment drive] will probably not change anything, because the root problem is with a system that still sees Arab citizens as unequal,” Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with Adalah, told The Jerusalem Post earlier this year.

Avi Bruchman, a former head of a community policing unit, said the police needs to do more in these communities.

“What they are doing in the Arab sector is not enough. It is one of the most important areas of policing,” said Bruchman, who now teaches at Ashkelon Academic College. “As of now, not one new police station has opened in the Arab sector.”

Still police are celebrating this latest recruitment drive as “unprecedented” and applauded the 2,000 recruits who chose to done the blue uniform. “They don’t do it for the salary, because there’s not much money. And not the work, because we work 24/7,” said Mairav Lapidot, “They do it because they want to make a change.”

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