'Gov't failing to recruit more officers'

Paz-Pines: Gov't not doing enough; Poor image, low wages cited as deterring potential policemen.

police car 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
police car 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The various government ministries responsible for meeting the government's target of recruiting an additional 1,000 police officers are guilty of "only partially working" to realize that goal, chairman of the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee, MK Ophir Paz-Pines, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, ahead of a vital committee meeting on Monday. In February, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved a budget of hundreds of millions of shekels for the additional officers. "There is no other police [force] in the world that has to contend with so many roles in the sectors of crime and [providing] continuous security," he said during a cabinet meeting two months ago. But so far, Paz-Pines said, "we know that the budget for recruitment has been low." He called on the finance and public security ministries to address "the relatively low wage earned by police officers" that discourages potential new recruits from joining, adding that the Israel Police also had a role to play in making itself a more attractive career option. Wages were not the only hurdle standing in the way of more recruits, according to former Tel Aviv district police chief David Tzur, especially in the center of the country, "where there are more jobs for people to choose from, and therefore it's harder to fill police vacancies." "In the periphery, there is higher unemployment, so police recruitment is easier because people will jump on what is available. But recruits who come because of a lack of [a] better opportunity have motivation problems," he added. While "salary levels are a problem, there is also the problem of a poor [public] image, which has a direct impact on police deterrence," Tzur said. He accused critics who snipe at the police "every other day" as playing a major part in producing that image. Tzur compared police officers with teachers, saying that "both sectors are responsible for shaping future generations and deterrence," and both "suffered from a bad image, and did not appear to be especially valued by society." "A low salary indicates a low level of esteem within society. Furthermore, there are rising attacks on police officers, and a lack of support in the courts for officers who have been attacked. Someone who assaults a police officer is usually released within a few days," Tzur said. Two youths have been arrested in Hadera on suspicion of attempting to run over a police officer. The youths were interrogated at length and released on bail, police said Sunday. "The feeling is that policing is too high-risk and low-paid. There is also the issue of young police officers who leave the force early on, which is a major blow. In my experience, I have seen officers just three or four years in the force - the stage when they really begin to give back to the organization - quit," he added.