Police chief: We don't want to be like the US, with masses of people in prison

Police chief Alsheich lays out his plan to win back the public's faith in speech to Israel Bar Association.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich‏ (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich‏
Israel Police will focus more on setting goals specific to each police station’s priorities instead of pursuing national quotas for arrests and indictments, Commissioner Insp.- Gen Roni Alsheich said Wednesday, describing the multi-year plan he is to set in motion for the organization.
“We decided that the right thing to do is to change the classic approach of policing. When this process is over, every police station will place its emphasis on the priorities that it and its public wants them to take the initiative on,” Alsheich commented at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat.
The approach is a departure of sorts from that of his predecessor, Yohanan Danino, who set nationwide goals and standards that increased the rate of arrests, indictments, and suspects held in custody until the end of legal proceedings against them.
“We don’t want a large percentage of people in jail. We don’t want to be like the US. We need to educate regular citizens to observe the law,” he said.
The police are not trying to increase arrests, indictments and convictions, but to raise the norm of observing the law, he added.
Alsheich’s comments mainly focused on the issue of public faith in the police, which in recent years has been wracked by scandal, mainly involving sex crimes investigations against senior officers. He described tailoring the priorities of individual stations to the demands of the local public as part of this goal of reaching out to the public and improving its faith in the police.
“No one will call us if they don’t trust us. No woman who feels in danger will come to us,” Alsheich said.
Alsheich’s plan calls on local police commanders to set benchmarks for the improvement of local issues, such as noisy neighbors, or the proliferation of illegal weapons.
He also said police see the distinction between hardened criminals who see themselves as criminals, live in a criminal peer group and aren’t ashamed to go to prison, and normative citizens who break the law. He said he see it is imperative that their work reflects this distinction.
Alsheich also addressed crime in the Arab sector, which is disproportionately high and for years one of the main issues facing Arab Israelis.
“We don’t deal with issues in Nazareth for public relations, but because they are our citizens and we deal with their needs like any other citizens,” Alsheich said, adding that they must improve recruitment among Arab Israelis and other sectors.
“We need to be a police force that recruits from every segment of the population, otherwise we won’t be able to understand these populations and there won’t be anyone who will consult us about the right ways to deal with sensitive issues, such as violence against women in the Arab sector, child sexual abuse in religious society, and so on,” he stated.