Police were swarming all over the grounds and inside the President’s Residence on Tuesday morning – the police were there to join in recognizing 40 policemen and women, including volunteers, the oldest of who was Sisso Avraham, 62, for excelling in their work and performing above and beyond the call of duty.
Yet while recognizing their dedication and sense of mission, Herzog touched on violence which poses a daily threat to Israel’s citizens. He emphasized that while the police are on the frontlines of this danger, the responsibility falls to everyone to quell it. It is untenable, said Herzog, that citizens should feel threatened in their homes, schools, on the roads and while waiting at traffic lights to cross the street.
More budget is needed
He called on all elected officials across the political spectrum and local authorities as well as all of civil society to work together in a determined manner to eliminate the threat of violence.
Every day, he said, there are increasing reports of curses, stabbings, kicking and other forms of physical violence.
Acknowledging that they require additional resources, Herzog said that the police force needs more budget, more human resources and greater respect from the public.
In mentioning that the police are currently in the eye of the political storm, Herzog seemed to hint that this may be one of the reasons that surveys indicate that the police have lost considerable public trust, even though the 40 men and women from all branches of the police force and from all over the country symbolized the best in giving of themselves to safeguard the security of the people of Israel.
Attending the event were outgoing Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.
In recent weeks, Shabtai has frequently been seen in the company of national security minister-designate Itamar Ben-Gvir who has expressed his intent to make major changes in police operations and responsibilities. Ben-Gvir did not attend the event.
Police risking their lives
Shabtai spoke briefly about how some members of the police are risking their lives in fighting terrorism and hardened criminals. In the current atmosphere of violence, their task is even harder, he implied.
Herzog praised both Shabtai and Bar Lev for years of devoted service in the IDF and the police.
As each of the outstanding policemen and women was called up to receive their citations from the president and Shabtai, their images, ranks, places of operation, ages and period of service were shown on a large video screen.
Most of the veterans were aged in their 50s, with some having been with the police for nearly 3 decades. The youngest were aged 20 and joined the police just last year, and even this year, quickly showing their mettle.