(photo credit: Israel Police)
Between visits to their absorption counselors and lessons at the neighborhood Hebrew ulpan, hundreds of new immigrants may soon have another item on their social calendar: police training.
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Israel Police announced Wednesday that they were joining in an unprecedented effort to draw large numbers of new immigrants into the force. Police said the olim would be enlisted into "field" roles in all police units, including investigations, juvenile crimes, patrol and traffic enforcement.
The initiative is designed to "raise the level of employment of immigrants in the work force, but mainly to increase their representation in the law enforcement system, while engaging them in the national effort against crime and traffic collisions, and to increase the sense of personal security for all citizens," according to the announcement.
Organizers expressed optimism that the project would put more multilingual officers on the streets and thereby enable police to be more responsive and attuned to the special needs of immigrant communities. One goal was to make the "police system more friendly toward immigrant populations," police said.
The Absorption Ministry will be responsible for identifying eligible immigrants and for carrying out the initial screening process. Immigrants who pass the first stage will be sent to the police for additional assessment and, if all goes well, assigned to units.
The ministry will assist qualified immigrants in improving their Hebrew, and will offer special ulpan and preparatory classes in advance of the police entry assessment tests to improve the applicants chances of acceptance.
Erez Halfon, director-general of the Absorption Ministry, said increased representation of immigrants in the police would greatly improve communication between law enforcement authorities and immigrants.