Cohen: Murder rate below average

Police chief laments fiscal limitations preventing more efficient enforcement, defends media ban.

Police Chief David Cohen 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Police Chief David Cohen 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Despite the concentration of a high number of murders in the central region in recent weeks, police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen maintained that Israel's murder rate "is stable and is relatively low in comparison with other countries" on Sunday evening. Cohen spoke after being briefed by the Lahav 433 police unit, which has been tasked with leading the investigation into the dismembered remains of two women found in Ramat Gan and the Alexander River, respectively, within two days of each other last week. "The picture is getting clearer and the direction is positive. I'm optimistic," Cohen said. Addressing public concern over the spate of recent murders, including the man beaten to death by a drunken gang while he was out with his family on a Tel Aviv beach Friday night, Cohen added, "I am aware of the public mood, but I can say that this is not a phenomenon or a trend. These are separate incidents with different backgrounds." However, he added, "At the same time, the concentration of recent incidents, which are not linked, is severe." Cohen said his officers were "working around the clock taking on an almost impossibly high number of missions. We have the possibility of drafting hundreds of officers who have expressed eagerness to serve, but a lack of budget is blocking this strategic move." The commissioner added that police did "not have a monopoly on dealing with violence," and said that "only a joint effort by all of us can result in a change of the public climate." Cohen justified the high number of media bans placed on the murder investigations, saying that "the interests of investigations overrides the right of the public to know." His comments were, however, challenged by Avi Davidovitch, the former deputy commander of the National Serious and International Crimes Unit. "We have a problem with information not coming to us because someone has decided that this information belongs to the police rather than the public. The amount of comprehensive media bans in force is ridiculous sometimes," Davidovitch told The Jerusalem Post. "Some forget that we live in an age where the information belongs to the public."