Hundreds of cops leaving force prematurely

Police awaits budget decision to implement plan on bolstering troops.

old city cop 298.88 (photo credit: Ahmad Garbali)
old city cop 298.88
(photo credit: Ahmad Garbali)
The face of the Israel Police in 2008 - like so many other national institutions - is still uncertain, as a key budgetary decision awaits a final decision by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Police Manpower chief Cmdr. Amihai Shai said Tuesday that he hopes to double the annual enlistment to the police in an effort to get more cops on the street, but that a crucial budgetary okay that would allow police to hire an additional 1,000 cops is still "sitting on the prime minister's table." Both the police and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter have detailed the importance of an extra 1,000 blue boots on the ground, bringing the total number of police enlisted in the coming year to slightly over 2,000. Within those 2,000, between 700 and 800 will replace officers leaving the ranks - over half of whom are doing so prematurely, before reaching retirement. Of those, 124 have left because they have found other, more appealing jobs, and another 31 have traded uniforms and joined the Israel Prison Service. Many of those 31, said Shai, were mid-rank officers who were assured quicker promotion tracks within the growing IPS. "I have no doubt that if they had seen a potential for advancement in the Israel Police, they would have stayed in the organization," Shai concluded. Meanwhile, said Shai, the police are working on what could be termed internal straightening-up efforts that the former investigations whiz hopes will promote excellence while removing some of the "dead weight" from the organization. Among those programs, the Manpower Division has instituted numerical assessments to help locate high-performing police in order to encourage them, and isolate low-performing police in order to force them to improve their performance or leave the force. A second, parallel program has been initiated to find outstanding cadets from officers' courses and to provide them with extra enrichment, mentorship and field commands as they ascend the ranks of the police. In the past year, police also initiated a program to locate potential officers among the 2,200 people carrying out their national service in the police. However, despite efforts, only 10 candidates were found to be acceptable, and only four of those made it through to the final stage of preliminary tryouts for the elite course. Shai also discussed the sensitive issue of police salaries, particularly those of the police working around the clock in Sderot. Following a government decision, their salaries will not be raised to reflect the increased level of danger they face beyond that of regular police officers in other cities and communities. In a more general sense, Shai said, a new salary program is likely to be adopted, through which the salaries of police working in the field - including patrol, investigations, and traffic cops - will be raised by as much as 40%, while those of staff workers and administrative support will gradually be cut by a similar ratio.