Police: Murders drop 21%, but stabbings are up 27%

Police Chief summarizes 2007, emphasizing drastic reductions in property crime statistics and in homicides.

david cohen 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
david cohen 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Police Chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen tried his best Sunday to cast a year notable for a series of headline-grabbing police embarrassments in a positive light, emphasizing drastic reductions in property crime statistics and in homicides. "You have to look at the glass as half full," said the top cop, as he presented an assortment of statistics as part of his summary of police activities in 2007. "2007 was a wonderful year for the Israel Police," he added. Cohen reported a 21 percent decline in the number of murders nationwide as compared to the previous year, alongside a 7% reduction in the total number of crimes reported to police. But on the negative side, Cohen discussed what he termed "three very serious trends involving violent crimes." 2007 saw a 27% increase in stabbings, and an increase of 21% in people illegally carrying knives. Among youth, police saw a 12% increase in illegal carrying of knives. One particular dark spot appeared, according to the data, to be the Northern District, which is fast becoming infamous for attacks against police officers and even internecine gun battles in Galilee villages. "There is a general upswing in the level of armament of serious criminals and crime syndicates in Israel," said Cohen, adding that "the Northern District appears to be a center of activity, with multiple shootings every weekend." Cohen denied allegations that citizens were losing faith in the police and simply failing to report crimes because of perceptions that the "thin blue line" was getting ever thinner. 75% of citizens, he said, did report crimes to the police. And, he added, the police were working hard to improve their image as a crime fighting force. "In the past seven years, we dealt more with terror and much less with crime. During those years, the public also had less of a demand that we confront crime, and more that we work to stop terror attacks," Cohen said. Now, he argued, police are redirecting their energies to work on "classic" police work, with targets for 2008 including reducing vehicle-related deaths and taking on drug traffickers in a more effective manner.