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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Police Chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen approached the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday with positive crime data, but with an urgent plea to enlist 2,200 more police officers in order to improve the county's ratio of police to citizens.
According to police data, in 2006, there were only 2.8 police officers per 1,000 civilians. By comparison, New York City boasts 4.4 officers per 1,000 citizens, Ireland 4.3, Turkey 3.5, Germany 3.2 and Holland 3.1. Cohen emphasized that in order to preserve the current ratio, police needed to sign on an additional 1,540 career police officers by 2010, and in order to raise the ratio to the desired four per 1,000 citizens, 2,200 police officers would have to be hired.
In spite of the dire picture that Cohen painted with regard to manpower, he emphasized four key trends in the crime data presented at the meeting. First, he said, there was a general decline in crime, including property crime, violence, theft and juvenile crime. For a second consecutive year, apartment break-and-enters declined on a nationwide basis, and even the murder rate experienced a slight decline in comparison to the data from this time last year. In the first half of 2007, police were called to 68 murders throughout the country.
According to the report compiled by police for Sunday's presentation, cases of auto theft stabilized after a shocking 16 percent rise in the second half of 2006. The rate declined by 12% - not quite a return to previous numbers, but an improvement nonetheless.
Cohen, who entered office on May 1, also detailed the directions for the near future in the police force, including addressing crime and improving personal security, strengthening Israel's internal line of defense against terror activities and continuing the struggle to reduce car crashes.
He told ministers that he had set as goals a 30% reduction in violence nationwide, and a 15% reduction in crime in general.
In order to deal with the pressing manpower shortages and to revitalize local police stations, Cohen announced that he planned to redeploy nonessential police officers from subdistrict and district-level headquarters and administrative staffs to the streets.
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