New police chief fills senior posts

Insp.-Gen. David Cohen concluded his first week as head of the Israel Police on Friday by announcing the appointments that everyone on the force had been awaiting with baited breath. On Friday morning, four of Israel's six police districts were up for grabs but by the afternoon, Cohen had named his choices for the posts, and for three other senior positions. There were a few surprises, but for the most part, the appointments did not signal a changing of the guard. The same "class" of officers remains dominant; no young guns were suddenly promoted. Jerusalem District head Cmdr. Ilan Franco, who was rumored to be considering retirement in the wake of the Zeiler Report, will move two districts westward to take the place of retiring Tel Aviv District chief Cmdr. David Tzur. Only the first name will be switched, however, on Jerusalem District letterhead. Franco's empty seat will be taken by Cmdr. Aharon Franco, who began his police service 30 years ago in bomb disposal. Today, Aharon Franco heads community policing and the civilian guard. Another veteran, Border Police head Cmdr. Hassin Faris, will move to a desk job at the police's Jerusalem Headquarters. Faris, a native of Hurfeish in the Galilee, had made no secret of his desire to become Northern District chief. Instead, he was appointed to head the Technology and Logistics Division, a position that he held before taking over the Border Police. The top spot in the Northern District was offered to Lt.-Cmdr. Shimon Koren. The 53-year-old has been the assistant commander of the Jerusalem District for the past three years; he served in a number of positions in the Northern District prior to his relocation to Jerusalem. The final regional command to switch hands was the Central District, which had been lead by Cohen until he left for the top floor of National Headquarters. The post will be taken by Lt.-Cmdr. Nisim Mor, who until recently was a regular at the Jerusalem Headquarters as recently retired Insp.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Karadi's chief of staff. Like Aharon Franco, Mor - a former IDF combat engineer - got his start with the police bomb squads and has since held a number of command positions, mostly in the Southern District. Mor will be promoted to commander. Two other key headquarters positions were also turned over to new hands. Lt.-Cmdr. Uzi Rozen, an experienced field man in the Southern District will set up shop in Jerusalem, where he will replace Aharon Franco as head of volunteers and civil defense. Rozen is currently an assistant district commander. The 52-year-old officer will also be promoted to commander. And Lt.-Cmdr. Amichai Shai, who recently made headlines as commander of the International and Serious Crimes Unit in a number of high-profile cases, including those of crime kingpin Assi Abutbul and former MK Azmi Bishara, will also be leaving investigations for an administrative job in the capital. Shai, who will also be promoted, will replace retiring Cmdr. Gabi Gal as head of police manpower, one of the most powerful positions on the general staff. The biggest surprise was Southern District chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev, who was left out in the cold. Bar-Lev reportedly ran afoul of Karadi for his failure to close ranks and support his chief during the difficult days following the publication of the Zeiler Report on police corruption and incompetence.