Analysis: Police feel heat from scathing ruling on murder

Police expected to take disciplinary action against officers who mishandled Inbal Amram’s 2006 disappearance and killing.

Police released a short statement in response to the Central District Court’s scathing criticism of its handling of Inbal Amram’s 2006 disappearance and killing.
“The police’s legal adviser’s bureau is studying the ruling,” the statement said.
'Police negligence caused woman's death'
But behind the concise words, it is clear that police are reeling from the court ruling, and are facing pressure to take significant disciplinary steps against the officers involved.
Police brass may also respond to the ruling by launching a review of procedures currently in place for missing individuals, although an examination of the guidelines shows that adequate procedures are already in place. In order to avoid the disastrous and avoidable negligence exhibited in Amram’s case, officers need only follow the guidelines.
According to the protocol, police must register a missing person report filed by relatives or friends “immediately and without any delay.”
Judge Hila Gerstel, president of the Petah Tikva court, found that officers on duty at the Petah Tikva police station on that fateful night in March 2006 had violated this first clause in the protocol, and failed to immediately note down the complaint when Amram’s worried parents arrived at the station at 2 a.m.
After receiving a missing person report, officers must decide whether it falls under the “immediate” or “nonimmediate” category, with the former being reserved for missing people whose lives are thought to be in danger.
Inbal Amram’s parents gave police good cause to suspect that a serious incident befell their daughter, as she had been missing for hours, and had not returned from a short drive to north Tel Aviv to pick up her younger sister.
Nevertheless, officers clearly did not categorize the report as “immediate,” and failed to understand the danger faced by Amram, choosing to respond to the complaint with apathy.
The court found police had been aware of Amram’s precise location for hours after tracking down her cell phone signal, but did not reach her until 9:30 a.m, when a helicopter landed near her jeep in north Tel Aviv, and officers discovered her body.
In light of the fact that officer conduct, rather than regulations, appears to be at fault, disciplinary measures now seem very likely.
Every year, police receive 4,000 reports on missing people in Israel and abroad.
According to the Israel Police, only one percent of those cases remain unsolved a year after receiving the reports.
The faster police are able to categorize urgent cases as “immediate” and act accordingly, the higher the chances that Inbal Amram’s tragic fate can be avoided in future situations.