police car 88.
(photo credit: )
Four young scientists joined the ranks of the Israel Police in recent weeks, marking what senior officers describe as a new beginning in recruiting academics to technological jobs, especially to forensics.
The four were the first-ever atuda'im (people who receive academic deferments from national service after high school) to join the police.
For years, the IDF, and more recently the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and defense industries, have recruited students selected to pursue university studies immediately following high school, allowing them to enter mandatory service after acquiring additional academic and professional skills.
The four police recruits comprised two electro-optic engineers, a biologist and a chemist. The latter two were selected from more than a dozen atuda'im who expressed interest in fulfilling their national service as part of the police's Forensic Science Division.
The division's commander, Lt.-Cmdr. Dr. Elazar Zadok said that while the hit TV show CSI had certainly raised the unit's profile, it was the groundbreaking work carried out by the unit that attracted the gifted students.
"Unlike in other units, chemistry and biology are the central fields in our work," he said. "Working in the division means that they are working on the frontline of technology."
The biologist will specialize in DNA evidence, including the increasingly-exact technology of identifying criminals - and their victims - through traces of blood, saliva and other biological components.
The chemist will focus on identification of the chemical components in illegal narcotics such as Ecstasy and heroin. Both will undergo extensive training to allow them to work as analysts and to serve as expert witnesses in criminal trials. "The courts have already recognized that forensic evidence is stronger and more reliable than human testimony," Zadok said.
Zadok was one of the first proponents of recruiting atuda'im. "We are proving there is a place in the Israel Police for intelligent police officers," he said, adding that in his unit, more than 75 percent of the officers hold academic degrees in the sciences, including some with doctorates - such as himself.
Zadok said he hoped that 90 such students would eventually join the police - and he doesn't think that the recruitment of "smart cops" should end there. In the future, he said, he hopes that the IDF's Talpiyot program, which recruits the next generation's brightest minds, will allocate students to the police.
The police has been negotiating with the IDF for years to receive atudai'm to strengthen its technology-based units. The atuda'im were recruited under the Shacham program, which enables them to fulfill their mandatory national service by servicing in the police. Those found suitable will be sent be trained as officers during their three-year-long mandatory service. They will be required to serve an additional three years as career police officers.
In honor of the newest additions to the force, a new identification tag was commissioned, to be worn on the epaulette. It reads: "Academic Recruit" and bears the Israel Police's symbol.