Watchdog head: Bar-Lev dismissal entirely personal

Movement for Quality Gov't accuses police chief Cohen of seeking to fire Southern District head because he dislikes him.

September 2, 2008 22:56
2 minute read.
Watchdog head: Bar-Lev dismissal entirely personal

Bar-Lev 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen on Tuesday ordered police officers of all ranks to refrain from publicly commenting on his controversial decision to sack Southern District chief Cmdr. Uri-Bar Lev. On Monday, a number of officers from the district told The Jerusalem Post of their dismay at Bar-Lev's forced leave of absence and apparent upcoming dismissal. Cohen's letter came in the form of a letter received by every police officer in the force. "This is an officer who refused to accept authority and created a crisis of faith in the organization," Cohen wrote. He repeated his assertion that Bar-Lev had turned down previous offers to command the Jerusalem or Northern districts. Also on Tuesday, the chairman of the Movement for Quality Government, attorney Eliad Shraga, accused Cohen of seeking to fire Bar-Lev because he dislikes him. The movement called for the dismissal of Cohen and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. "It's all personal," Shraga said of Cohen's decision to fire Bar-Lev. "Nothing interests them. Not the police force and not the state." Bar-Lev lowered the crime rate in the South by 60 percent. Everywhere else in the country crime is increasing. So they send him home. It's unbelievable," Shraga said. "Bar-Lev is an outstanding officer whose great success in his most recent position, as in previous ones, cannot be disputed. [Cohen] did not provide any serious reason having to do with Bar-Lev's work for firing him. He explained that it was part of the round of appointments in the top echelon of the police and that he 'did not have confidence' in Bar-Lev," the Movement for Quality Government wrote in a statement issued earlier in the day. According to the movement, this reasoning constituted breach of faith on Cohen's part toward the public and the police department, and a severe blow to the rule of law. "[Cohen's] obligation to do right by the public prohibits him from making such an arbitrary and extraneous move as to force an outstanding officer who has a graduate degree to go off to study in the midst of a successful term of office by all accounts, while the alternative is to fire him." Cohen confused "personal animosity and lack of personal chemistry, which might make a satisfactory reason for firing an employee in one's own business, with service dedicated to the public, where he is obliged to act soundly, free of whimsical animosity or 'lack of confidence' that has nothing to do with the quality of the officer under his command," the movement wrote. The watchdog organization also criticized Dichter for standing behind Cohen. "Dichter simply shut his eyes even though he was well aware of the circumstances," it said. "He was unable and unwilling to make an essential decision, even if not an easy one and one that was unpalatable to those with whom he had to work day-to-day." "We won't let this man go home," Shraga told the Post, indicating that the movement would petition the High Court of Justice if Bar-Lev was fired.

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