Police prober: 'silence conspiracy' protects policemen

New report by civil rights group finds only three percent of complaints against police result in indictment.

Pines 88 (photo credit: )
Pines 88
(photo credit: )
Police officers maintain a "conspiracy of silence" to protect one another from investigations filed against them, said Police Investigative Division (PID) head Herzl Shviro at a Knesset committee discussion Tuesday. "Police officers under investigation come well-prepared for their inquiry, know all the tricks and maintain a conspiracy of silence between them," Shviro told the Knesset's Committee on the Interior and the Environment. They met to discuss a new report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which found that only three percent of complaints issued against police result in an indictment. While Shviro acknowledged the problems in his division, he disputed the findings, stating that around 22% of complaints result in an indictment, of those 8.5% of a criminal nature. Shviro told the committee that the case of five policemen involved in the bomb-planting scandal against two figures in the Nahariya criminal underworld was "riddled with flaws." "Police officers covered each other and didn't testify about the offenses involving their colleagues," he said. He added that police under investigation cajole their fellow officers into supporting their claims that they acted in self-defense. Police will often help cover up for their colleagues to improve the reputation of their unit. Committee Chairman MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) leveled harsh criticism on the PID, which investigates internal affairs, stating that the body lacks the ability to carry out its investigations. MKs from both ends of the political spectrum added their criticism of the PID, citing specific incidents in which members of their respective sectors were unfairly treated by police. "We can see an ongoing trend, from many sectors of the population, that the PID department is not doing its job," said Paz-Pines.