Dichter tries to convince Southern District Police head to take study leave

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter met Southern District Police head Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev on Sunday morning to discuss his future in the Israel Police. Dichter tried to convince Bar-Lev to take a year's study leave, as Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. David Cohen had directed, but Bar Lev refused, saying that taking such leave would be a waste of public money. Dichter said he would make his decision on the matter later Sunday, based of what is best for the Israel Police. Bar-Lev is one of Israel's most valued district chiefs under whose leadership the southern district - which covers two-thirds of Israel - has seen a reduction in crime by over 50 percent over the past three years. Last week, Cohen released a statement saying Bar-Lev would "complete his duties and retire from the force" in 2009. Cohen's announcement was made as part of a reshuffling of senior police figures.