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(photo credit: Channel 10)
Central District Chief Cmdr. Dudi Cohen smiled Wednesday as he walked in the place of honor next to Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi at a police ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.
During the six-hour visit at Yad Vashem, Cohen, who was nominated Tuesday to serve as the next chief of the Israel Police, refrained from breaking the silence that he has maintained since receiving the nomination.
Cohen is known for his avoidance of the public eye. He is not - unlike retiring Cmdr. Mickey Levy - a man who is comfortable before cameras, despite his last three high-profile positions in the force. In recent months, he has worked to break the habit of standing during interviews with his hands on his hips, looking more like a small-town sheriff than a media-savvy officer.
But Cohen's record - and past comments - speak for themselves. The officer with the boyish bang that hangs in his face amid a legion of balding commanders, Cohen has served in multiple field command positions and is considered a solid - if not revolutionary - leader.
He has described himself as "not a bull-headed police officer but rather an experienced police officer." Still, he has chosen to emphasize certain key positions, including his insistence that the government's attitude toward the police must change - quickly.
"Look at what is happening in our country," he told members of the Knesset's Interior Committee three months ago. "If you build a city, a community, I believe that there are allocations of schools, playgrounds, teachers, clinics, neonatal centers - everything that is necessary to serve that communityâ€¦ A city would not be built without a school, a park, a kindergarten and so forth. [But] in the state of Israel, it is possible to establish a city without police."
He reiterated the need for increased police resources in cities such as Elad, Shoham and Modi'in, which have experienced rapid population increase. In the absence of a change in government policy, "police services will not be increased and they will not be maintained at an acceptable level if there isn't an 'autopilot.' I have no doubt that this will become even more complex, even more problematic."
Although he declared the "war on crime" as one of the policy guidelines for the Central District, Cohen has a functional - if not overly optimistic - view on the challenge of fighting criminal activity.
"I am not certain that the police can eliminate sources of crime. But it is clear that we must aspire to reach a state in which the public can tolerate the level of crime throughout the country. There will not ever be a point at which there is no crime in the State of Israel," he told members of the committee headed by Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle.
Cohen also feels that crime will be mitigated by the regularization of the security fence, but that - once again - prevention of illegals from crossing the fence will depend on a manpower increase that will allow police to search more vehicles.
"Ultimately, in X amount of time, there will be a "rule of crossings" on the security fence. This is, to my mind, the most classic situation that could be: that in every place there will be an organized crossing, a crossing for goods and for people," he emphasized while taking the committee members on a trip through his district.
But even though he is camera-shy and keeps his personal opinions pretty much to himself, Cohen can display both toughness and an extensive knowledge gained from 30 years on the job. When told by MK Yoram Marciano and Majadle that they were tired of seeing the same police multimedia presentation over and over, Cohen offered to turn off the projector and submit to a unscripted question and answer session.
The largest achievement under Cohen's belt - at least from the perspective of the police organization - was the unification of the Intelligence and Investigative Divisions. The crucial shift came during Cohen's seven-month service as head of Investigations and then head of the new conglomerate.
Over a year after the unification, the Zeiler Commission reaffirmed the importance of the merger in streamlining the police ability to crack complex cases.
Cohen has received strong voices of support among his now-retired former commanders. Both former police chief Insp.-Gen. (ret.)Shlomo Aharonishky and Cmdr. (ret.) Yair Yitzhaki have expressed their approval of Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter's choice. And, in January, months before Cohen's appointment, MK Yitzhak Aharonovich described Cohen as " one of the best fieldworkers that the police have today."