The number of complaints lodged against Border Police troops for use of excessive force declined last year by over 64%, according to new data on Border Police activity set to be released Wednesday by the unit.
In 2006, 22 files were opened by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigative Department against Border Police troops on suspicion of use of excessive force. In comparison, 65 files were opened in 2005.
The total number of public complaint files and Police Investigation Department (PID) files opened against the Border Police also declined significantly - from 237 files to 186.
Border Police officials termed the findings "surprising" and attributed the decline to a new emphasis on appropriate behavior within the organization.
They added that they had expected more complaints due to increased contact between Border Police officers and the civilian population. Throughout the second half of the year, the organization was increasingly involved in urban policing in areas including Jaffa, Netanya and Tel Aviv's Florentin neighborhood.
"This is largely due to good education and investment in manpower and additional training," said one senior Border Police officer, who detailed a number of courses held in 2006 for both officers and enlisted policemen.
The 2006 figures were not the only good news for the Israel Police, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave his full backing to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and his choice for new police commissioner, Yaakov Genot, at the weekly cabinet meeting Tuesday.
The cabinet meeting, which is usually held on Sunday, was held on Tuesday because Sunday was Purim.
"The police is not corrupt," Olmert said. "There has been an exaggerated dramatization in the way things have been presented."
Dichter named Genot as the replacement for Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi after Karadi resigned following the harshly critical Zeiler report issued last month. However, Genot's appointment raised eyebrows due to a number of corruption charges, including bribery, which he faced 13 years ago.
Genot was acquitted of the charges in district court, and the Supreme Court upheld the rulings.
Olmert said that it was absurd that had Genot been convicted of the corruption charges 13 years ago, it would now be impossible to use those convictions against him, "but now that he was acquitted, people want to use the acquittal to say that he is unfit [for the job]."
Olmert said that all proportion has been lost in dealing with the Genot appointment, and that the appointment would be dealt with by the Terkel Committee, responsible for approval of appointments to senior positions in the civil service, and by the High Court of Justice.
Olmert spoke out forcefully in support of the police, saying, "There is nothing easier than undermining the motivation of 28,000 policemen by saying that the police is corrupt. We shouldn't wonder afterwards why people don't want to serve in the police."
Olmert also came out squarely behind Karadi, saying that inside the Zeiler Report there was no mention of any corruption on his part, despite what Olmert called "rumors" and "folklore" to the contrary. Olmert said that Karadi can "walk proud," and deserves everyone's good wishes.