Police image hits new low

Poll finds just 37% of Israelis say the police fulfill their role successfully.

police chase 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
police chase 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Most Israelis have a very negative view of the country's police force, a poll commissioned by the Public Security Ministry has found. "Only 30 percent indicated that their confidence in the police was high," reported the survey, conducted by the Smith Consulting and Research polling institute among 1,351 people. An overwhelming 78% disagreed with the statement that "police functioning improved considerably or somewhat in the past two years." Just 37% said the police fulfill their role successfully or very successfully. "The declining evaluation of the public's trust toward the police has reached a new low," the survey concluded. "The police has to concentrate its efforts to stop this decline and to change the public view." In one of the few encouraging results, 81% of respondents had a positive view of the police's ability to combat terrorism. Some 64% said police could keep public order, and 35%-36% said the police were good at handling traffic violations and crime prevention. A large majority (70%) said the police presence in their areas was "somewhat or highly insufficient." A fear of reprisals from criminals kept 40% of respondents from turning to police in times of distress, the survey found. In a somewhat counterintuitive result, the survey reported "more positive evaluations" of the police among Israeli Arab respondents than from their Jewish counterparts. The report's authors highlighted a "distressing" unwillingness by teenagers to contact the police, and the "apathy they demonstrate toward their surroundings." They called on the police to improve "specific aspects that have seen a decline this year: efficiency and professionalism." "Unless those aspects are addressed in dramatic fashion, the decline in the police image will continue," the authors warned. In response to the poll, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said he was formulating a "long-term plan to increase public security." He cited a fall in car-thefts and other forms of break-ins as proof that a turnaround in the public's view of the police was imminent. "I'm trying to change this trend, and the facts point to a change," he said.