Analysis: A wild goose chase for cops

The word on the street is that the report on Sela's escape won't send shockwaves.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
December 7, 2006 02:24
2 minute read.
Analysis: A wild goose chase for cops

sela billboard 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Gen. (res.) Amos Yaron will deliver the Yaron Commission's findings to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter on Thursday. But despite Dichter's frustration with the law enforcement community following the escape of serial rapist Benny Sela from police custody, the word on the street seems to indicate that the commission's findings won't exactly be the earthquake that some might have expected. Observers of the police predict that the commission's findings will not reach the upper levels of the police or even the highest levels of the Tel Aviv District. This is predicted to be the case despite recent revelations that district chief Cmdr. David Tzur may have been aware of but ignored warnings that the prisoner escort unit - from whose custody Sela escaped - was incapable of performing its duties. In fact, the word on the street is that the highest-placed officer to receive a serious reprimand from the Yaron Commission might be the Tel Aviv District chief of operations. The commission's findings are, however, expected to reinforce a key point of Dichter's plans for changing the face of the law enforcement community - establishing the Israel Prisons Service as the exclusive authority for dealing with convicts. But the specific failures pinpointed by the Yaron Commission are also simply pieces of a larger picture - a more disturbing one - with regard to the Israel Police. The Sela escape was just the latest of a series of scandals that have chipped away at public faith in the police - a fact that has not escaped Dichter, who has become increasingly willing to show his disappointment and frustration with the Israeli version of the Keystone Kops. Only one weekend apart from the Yaron Commission's report, attorney Boaz Ben-Zur will take the stand at the Zeiler Commission on Sunday to offer a final statement on behalf of his clients, Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy and Ch.-Insp. Ruby Gilboa. Levy and Gilboa and in fact, the Israel Police in general, were given warnings in May that the commission's findings could be damaging. As if the allegations alone weren't damaging enough to the police image, the ensuing mudslinging by many of the most senior commanders in the police only served to expose all of the police's dirty laundry - of which there is apparently a lot - before the eyes of the Israeli public. In fact, the police have been so tainted by scandal that Sela's escape also served as a fig leaf - taking public attention away from the allegations against Asst.-Cmdr. Yaakov Zigdon. And that's not even taking into consideration the recent complaint that police violated acceptable norms of behavior in the investigation into former justice minister Haim Ramon. But up to, and including, the Yaron Commission none of them has led to the resignation or removal of even one senior police officer. Meanwhile, while the other commissions and probes continue, Sela is still roaming free and nobody has yet submitted an answer to the biggest question - how to restore public faith in the police.

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