(photo credit: Israel Police)
The Israel Police's failure to retain and properly monitor officers who have extensive knowledge of organized crime has resulted in a number of skilled investigators and intelligence handlers "going over to the other side" and cooperating with mob families and their attorneys after they left the force, former head of investigations Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi said on Thursday.
Mizrahi expressed skepticism that a private member's bill sponsored by MK Ophir Paz-Pines that calls for a cooling-off period between the time a police officer leaves the force and when he can work for private attorneys would help solve the problem.
"I'm not sure time is the key, as the bill seems to suggest," Mizrahi said. "The idea is that the officers who resigns has very relevant information for criminals immediately after they leave. But someone would eventually bypass this cooling-off period."
The Israel Police, which had invested so much in the officers, was "failing to retain them," he said. "These officers haven't found their place. They are very good and skilled officers."
As a result, they resign and sell their knowledge of police operations to mobsters.
"This is the result of system failure. I have tried to implement initiatives to prevent this and unfortunately failed," Mizrahi said.
He recalled how officers under his command at the National Fraud Unit had worked with Israeli businessmen from the former Soviet Union who were wanted for questioning by police in their former homelands. Usually the officers involved had eavesdropped on the businessmen and had a "good understanding of their mentality," Mizrahi said. After they left the force, they cooperated with the same businessmen.
Mizrahi described how he had attempted to introduce Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)-style polygraph tests to his unit to prevent officers still working for the police from cooperating with criminals. "But the Shin Bet, which would have carried out the tests, did not want to increase its sphere of influence, and the police became frightened of the idea."
"I paid the price because some people from my unit worked with people we interrogated. The system of checks on officers is very slow. If a certain officer is checked and then left alone, you can suddenly wake up 15 years later and find out that he is somewhere else," Mizrahi said. "You have to a check every five years."
As for the possibility that active service officers were working as double agents for mob families, Mizrahi said that was always a danger, though he did not believe such activity was extensive. "Our police force is not corrupt. But we do need to keep an eye on the margins, where a culture [of working for criminals while in service] could develop, and which could spread and endanger the organization," he warned. "Still, there is no need to exaggerate this phenomenon."
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