'Police reshuffle motivated by cronyism'

Sources claim changes in positions of senior figures motivated by Cohen's desire to help friends.

david cohen 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
david cohen 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A reshuffling of senior police figures by Insp.-Gen. David Cohen is motivated by cronyism and has left many in the force feeling embittered, a police source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. The shake-up of police brass, which is expected to go into effect next May or June, will likely see five senior officers placed in new positions, but has been marked with irregularities stemming from Cohen's desire to help out old-time friends such as Dep.-Cmdr. Jackie Bray, currently head of the Israel Police's Financial Crimes Division. Bray, described as a close associate of Cohen, has reportedly been approved for promotion to commander, and will leave his position to become head of the Israel Police's Lahav Unit (also known as Unit 443, designed to tackle organized crime). Cmdr. Yoav Sagolovich, currently head of the Lahav Unit, will be shifted to head of Israel Police's interrogations division, while the current head investigator, Yohanan Danino, is set to replace Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev as head of the police's Southern District. Despite being assured of a new position as head of a police district two years ago by Cohen, Bar-Lev has now been advised by Cohen to take a study leave. Bar-Lev, who has a BA in engineering and a second BA in political science, rejected the offer, the source said. Bar-Lev has been inundated with phone calls from police brass expressing support for his position, the source added, saying that the reason no positions were open for Bar-Lev is because of Cohen's decision to help out another buddy, Cmdr. Shai Amihai, head of the police's Human Resources Division. Amihai, who has passed his retirement age of 57, was given an extension to stay in office by Cohen. After learning of Amihai's extension, several commanders, such as Judea and Samaria Police District chief Cmdr. Shlomo Katabi, and Border Police Chief Cmd. Yisrael Yitzhak, also requested extensions in office past their retirement ages, which were approved, the source said. "Cohen could not just leave Amihai in position while forcing other commanders to exit when they reached 57, so he granted additional exemptions to avoid embitterment," the source explained, a tactic which did not seem to have accomplished its goal. "Many lieutenant commanders are bitter, because 10 of them are not being promoted in 2009 and 2010," the source said. The source added that many officers were disgruntled at how "[Public Security Minister Avi] Dichter has failed to intervene. He is perceived as being more interested in politics and than the police." A spokesperson for Cohen was unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, Deputy Insp.-Gen. Shahar Ayalon has reportedly been allowed to take the unprecedented step of being appointed to a subordinate position as chief of Tel Aviv District Police. Ayalon will likely be replaced by current Tel Aviv police chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco. In June, a wide-ranging examination of how police appoint senior officers was launched by the State Comptroller's Office, during which investigators questioned staff at the police's Human Resources Department in Jerusalem.