Special report raps police over improper police appointments

Shapira’s recommendations strive to ensure "proper distance between political and professional echelons.”

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira‏ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira‏
Police have made appointments and promotions of senior officers in “arbitrary and erroneous” manner, according to a State Comptroller’s Report published on Tuesday.
Between the months of March and September 2017, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira examined the procedures of placement and promotion of the Israel Police officers who fulfill the roles of superintendent, commander and all those in between.
The inspection was carried out primarily in the Human Resources Department, as well as in the office of the police commissioner. Inspections were also conducted in the Public Security Ministry.
The report stated that the framework that determines the powers given to the public security minister to appoint senior police officers – which he does together with the police commissioner – were set 46 years ago. The comptroller believes that that framework needs to be changed, in light of organizational and functional changes that have taken place over that time.
The issue of police appointments is an ongoing one. It was also audited by the state comptroller in 2010.
“While the police have invested significant efforts into building a new method of appointments, there is still a lack of a foundation in the process of appointing senior officers,” the latest report said.
“The findings raise the suspicion that sometimes, during the appointment procedure, decisions are made that are arbitrary or erroneous, and sometimes even decisions that are not egalitarian and that are inconsistent with proper administrative procedures; this may harm the public’s trust in the police’s official, professional and apolitical character,” the report added.
Among his key recommendations, the comptroller called on the Public Security Ministry and the Justice Ministry to examine, together with the Israel Police, the need to change the existing frameworks and to consider transferring the authority to appoint senior officers, or at least some of them, from the Public Security Minister to the police.
“This should ensure the proper distance between the political echelon and the decisions made by the professional echelon in the police,” the comptroller remarked in his report.
The recommendations also call on the police to formulate books on the different roles in the police force, detailing the positions, the various ranks, the definitions of the roles and the responsibilities involved in filling them. These books must be readily available to all those who serve in the police force, the report adds.
The decision makers must explain the main considerations behind their choice of a candidate for a specific role and must ensure that the officer’s age does not have any weight in decisions regarding promotions or training for a future promotion, the recommendation states. “This is different to the weight that must be given to examining the compatibility between the officer’s abilities and requirements of the role,” the report stresses.
It also noted the considerations of fairness and equality, which require internal candidates be able to apply for a role alongside external candidates, and that their candidacy will be considered on an equal footing.
The Israel Police said in response to the report that it believes in the need for maximum separation from external and extra-organizational influences and considerations. “In light of this, the Israel Police sees the importance in granting independence to the police to appoint its officers, even beyond the existing situation in any other security body,” the statement read. “In this context, it should be noted that the placement and promotion process in parallel security bodies is carried out mostly by the head of the organization only.
“Above all, we should note that since the appointment of the police commissioner [Roni Alsheikh], his recommendations for the appointment of senior officers have been approved by the Minister of Public Security [Gilad Erdan].”
However, the police emphasized that it does not intend to take over the responsibility for the appointments of all senior officers, but only of those of chief superintendent and commander. This, it said, is “in order to enable proper and efficient management of the organization with minimal exposure to other considerations.”
The police also highlighted that many of the suggestions made in the State Comptroller’s Report have already been examined and adopted prior to its publication, as part of the police’s inspection and learning processes.
A book of roles, it said, is currently being formulated.
“We emphasize that despite what was said in the report, we have set uniform and egalitarian rules for each rank, which are detailed in the Human Resources department’s procedures, and are distributed before any new round of appointments,” the police stated.
The statement also mentioned age as a consideration in appointments, saying: “The connection between age and promotion stems largely from the link between the quality of the officers and their age. The quality of the candidates influences their chances of advancing more than their age does.”
“The process of promotion and appointment of officers in the Israel Police is carried out in an orderly manner and taking into account a range of professional and qualitative parameters,” the statement concluded. “This is a multi-stage process that is conducted with transparency, balance and constant quality control, enabling the selection of the highest level of officers for promotion.”