Low pay is the No. 1 complaint expressed by police officers

Long hours without overtime means many are earning less than the minimum wage.

police al aksa pretty 311 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
police al aksa pretty 311 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Low pay is the No. 1 complaint expressed by police officers and prison guards in Israel, according to a report presented to a Knesset committee on Tuesday.
The report was compiled by the Israel Ombudsman for Police and Prisons Service Personnel, an office that operates within the Public Security Ministry, and which is headed by Cmdr. (ret.) Hanna Keller. The report, which was presented to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and the Knesset Interior Committee on Tuesday, shows an 18% increase during 2009 in the number of complaints by policemen and prison guards, especially in regard to salary.
The report also found a 29% rise in the number of employees seeking consultation over whether to file a complaint.
According to the report, the leading complaints in the Israel Policeafter salary issues involved relations between officers and theirsubordinates. Such complaints were highest among junior officers andnon-commissioned officers. In the Prisons Service, the leading subjectsof complaint were pay and conditions of service, followed byofficer-subordinate relations.
A glance at Israel Police and Prisons Service salaries show that byvirtually any standard, officers and guards are earning salaries thatmake supporting a family extremely difficult.
A regular service police officer (one not serving in special units orthe Border Police) and a standard prison guard earn NIS 4,400 in grosspay per month, while an officer serving in a special unit such asIsrael’s counterterrorism Yamam unit makes NIS 5,000 per month.Israel’s minimum wage is NIS 3,850 per month.
When one factors in the long hours that police officers and prisonguards work and the fact that they don’t receive overtime pay, theamount they make per hour becomes less than the minimum wage andsignificantly less than most service industry employees in Israel make.
As the officers climb in rank their pay rises, but the promotions takemuch longer than they do in the IDF. For instance, a non-commissionedofficer makes NIS 6,200 per month; while a first-sergeant major earnsNIS 9,500 per month.
Unlike in the army, where such ranks are achieved by soldiers as youngas 20 or 21, in the police and Prisons Service an officer only achievessuch a rank after the age of 31, when most of them have families tosupport.
Officers’ courses also take until an advanced age to complete, with therank of inspector, (which pays NIS 9,500) usually only being achievedby the age of 29 or 30. Police officers and prison guards typicallyserve in this rank, until the age of 36, at which time they areeligible to become a superintendent. This rank, equivalent to the armyrank of captain, pays NIS 12,000 gross per month, but is often reachedin the army by the age of 23.
A spokesman for the Public Security Ministry told TheJerusalem Post that not only does the low pay harm theability of police officers to perform their job; it makes it difficultfor the police to recruit new officers and to retain those who havesigned up.
“It’s not that they can’t recruit people, the real problem is that somany of them have no choice but to leave after a year or two,” he said.
Following presentation of the report Aharonovitch vowed to push forhigher pay for police officers and prison guards, saying “officers cannot carry on without the ability to provide their families with themeans to celebrate holidays, to buy gifts for their children, or takevacations with their loved ones.
“The report shows the forlorn state of the soldiers fighting the war on crime,” Aharonovitch added.
The Public Security Ministry also issued a statement noting that the problem puts the public more at risk.
“A police officer or prison guard who is frustrated and has no way toremedy it, works in an unsatisfactory way. Such officers do notinitiate actions and are lack motivation.”