Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen and former public security minister Avi Dichter acted improperly in the promotion of Cohen’s brother, Asst.-Cmdr. Mordechai (Moti) Cohen, by ignoring guidelines on the appointment of relatives, the state comptroller found.
Cohen flatly contradicted the findings, saying that he had taken himself out of the decision-making process regarding his brother, and “did not act in contradiction of the guidelines, since during that time in question there were no guidelines that called for regulations to be put in place to prevent a conflict of interests.
“The state comptroller himself found that the police chief’s involvement was limited to the technical-procedural aspect of the process alone,” the police statement said.
In 2007, Moti Cohen was promoted from his former position of Operations Branch officer in the Tel Aviv Police to head of the Yiftah police sub-district in Tel Aviv.
Before the appointment, Cohen held a meeting with Dichter, and brought up the conflict of interests involved in the promotion of his brother. Dichter settled the issue by ruling that the deputy police commander during that time, Shahar Ayalon, would have final say over the promotion of Moti Cohen.
But the State Comptroller’s Report found that the arrangement “was not in line with guidelines set by the attorney-general,” which called for a mechanism to be put in place in such cases to prevent conflicts of interests from arising.
The arrangement also “did not fully address the conflict of interest which affected Cohen regarding the appointment of his brother,” the report said, since the final say on the promotion “should have have been given to the legal adviser of the Israel Police.”
In addition, “no guidelines were set by police regarding the other stages in the decision-making process [for Moti Cohen’s promotion],” the report said.
Contrary to the attorney-general’s guidelines, no layer of separation between Cohen and Ayalon was put in place during discussions on Moti Cohen’s promotion, the report added.
The comptroller said that the police chief “did not live up to the arrangement with Dichter and was in effect involved in the appointment process for his brother.”
In 2008, Cohen ruled in favor of a recommendation for his brother to be appointed deputy head of the police Central District, since the decision could not be separated from other decisions on the appointments of senior officers, the report said.
But guidelines set by the attorney-general, which were ignored, would have enabled police and the Public Security Ministry to deal with this issue properly had they been observed, the report added.
The comptroller’s reported noted also that in 2007, Cohen signed a recommendation form which led to his brother’s promotion the rank of asst.-cmdr and appointment to the Yiftah post.
Dichter is accused in the report of failing to address the improper aspects of the decisions regarding Moti Cohen, and failing to consult with the attorney-general before ruling that Ayalon would have final say on Moti Cohen’s promotion and appointment.
“The arrangement was insufficient to rule out fears of a conflict of interest,” the comptroller concluded.
Dichter did not have the authority to decide who should have final say on Moti Cohen’s future, the report said.
The comptroller stressed that none of his criticisms could be used to “cast doubt the qualifications of the police chief’s brother or to raise doubts that he was unqualified to take up the position to which he was appointed.”
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch described the report as “serious, thorough and in-depth.”
In a statement, the Public Security Ministry said that “after studying its conclusions, the minister will decide on necessary steps.”
Other criticisms in the report centered on instances of age discrimination against senior officers, whom Cohen had concluded would not become part of the next generation of the Israel Police leadership.
In 2008, Cohen launched a new policy of identifying and preparing the next generation of police brass and decided not to promote officers were unlikely to serve in the police for more than four to six years.
The comptroller’s report said such policies should be made only after a systematic framework was drawn up at police headquarters.
“It has emerged that the police did not carry out the necessary preparatory work for formulating this policy,” the comptroller concluded.
Police failed to take into account a High Court of Justice ruling from 2006, which ordered police to allow senior officers the option of delaying their retirement beyond the age of 57, Lindenstrauss said.
Police “did not analyze the affect of its new policy on all senior
officers, and did not rely on professional opinions,” the report said.
Responding to the criticism, police said, “the appointments format
introduced by Police Insp.-Gen. Cohen allow for a long-term
organizational policy of creating a quality and professional leadership
for police. The changes did, among other things, oblige senior and
valued officers who had no future service time left to resign.”
In 2008, Cohen and Avi Dichter announced new regulations for the
appointment and promotion of senior officers which led to “greater
transparency and objectivity,” the report found. But by February 2009,
police had not finished drawing up the new regulations.
Police said in response, “The reforms are still being developed, and
police are creating a systematic procedure of monitoring the
appointments, to learn from the past and make continuous improvements.”